H. R. 539
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 6, 2013
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 a bipartisan majority of 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
Collaboration Act of 2013
Congress finds the following:
Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (in this section referred to as the Commission), past and present, have stated that, while they support the intent of section 552b of title 5, United States Code, the implementation of that section has hindered the ability of the Commission to have a substantive exchange of ideas and hold collective deliberations on issues pending before the Commission.
The principal purpose of Congress in creating a multimember agency is to obtain the benefits of collegial decisionmaking by the members of the agency, 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 people in the United States.
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:
Nonpublic collaborative discussions
In this subsection:
The term agency action has the meaning given the term in section 551 of title 5, United States Code.
Bipartisan majority of Commissioners
The term bipartisan majority of Commissioners means a group of not less than 3 Commissioners that includes—
for each political party of which any Commissioner is a member, not less than 1 Commissioner who is a member of that political party; and
if any Commissioner has no political party affiliation, not less than 1 unaffiliated Commissioner.
Nonpublic collaborative discussions
Notwithstanding section 552b of title 5, United States Code, a bipartisan majority of Commissioners may hold a meeting that is closed to the public to discuss official business if—
a vote or any other agency action is not taken at the meeting;
each person present at the meeting is a Commissioner, an employee of the Commission, a member of a joint board established under section 410, or a person on the staff of such a joint board; and
an attorney from the Office of General Counsel of the Commission is present at the meeting.
Disclosure of nonpublic collaborative discussions
Not later than 2 business days after the conclusion of a meeting held under paragraph (2), the Commission shall publish on the website of the Commission a disclosure relating to the meeting that includes—
a list of the persons who attended the meeting; and
a summary of the matters discussed at the meeting, except for any matters that the Commission determines may be withheld in accordance with 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 a meeting described in paragraph (2).