H. R. 1009
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 10, 2011
Ms. Eshoo (for herself, Mr. Shimkus, and Mr. Doyle) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to authorize 3 or more Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission to hold nonpublic collaborative discussions, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Federal Communications Commission
Congress finds the following:
Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (in this section referred to as the Commission), past and present, have stated that they support the intent of section 552b of title 5, United States Code, but that its implementation has hindered the Commission’s ability to have a substantive exchange of ideas and hold collective deliberations on issues pending before the Commission.
Congress’s principal purpose in creating a multimember agency is to obtain the benefits of collegial decisionmaking by the agency’s members, who bring to the decisionmaking process different philosophical perspectives, experiences, and areas of expertise.
Commissioners have relied primarily on an inefficient combination of written messages, communications among staff, and a series of meetings restricted to 2 Commissioners at each such meeting to discuss complex telecommunications matters pending before the Commission.
Extensive use of such methods of communication has harmed collegiality and cooperation at the Commission.
Numerous regulatory matters have been pending before the Commission for years, and continued inaction on these issues has the potential to hinder innovation and private investment in the domestic communications industry.
The Commission must be able to work more collaboratively and efficiently than in the past to meet the current challenge of expanding broadband Internet access to the extent necessary to serve the business, educational, health, and cultural needs of all Americans.
Nonpublic collaborative discussions of the Federal Communications Commission
Section 4 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 154) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
Nonpublic collaborative discussions
Notwithstanding section 552b of title 5, United States Code, 3 or more Commissioners may hold a meeting that is closed to the public to discuss official business if—
a vote or any other agency action, as such term is defined in section 551(13) of title 5, United States Code, is not taken at such meeting;
each person present at such meeting is a Commissioner or an employee of the Commission;
for each political party of which any Commissioner is a member, at least 1 Commissioner who is a member of such respective political party is present at such meeting, and, if any Commissioner has no political party affiliation, at least one unaffiliated Commissioner is present at such meeting; and
an attorney from the Office of General Counsel of the Commission is present at such meeting.
Disclosure of nonpublic collaborative discussions
Not later than 5 days after the conclusion of a meeting held under paragraph (1), the Commission shall publish on its Web site a disclosure of such meeting, including—
a list of the persons who attended such meeting; and
a summary of the matters discussed at such meeting, except for such matters as the Commission determines may be withheld under section 552b(c) of title 5, United States Code.
Preservation of open meetings requirements for agency action
Nothing in this subsection shall limit the applicability of section 552b of title 5, United States Code, with respect to a meeting of Commissioners other than that described in paragraph (1).
This subsection shall cease to be effective 5 years after the date of enactment of the Federal Communications Commission Collaboration Act.