FCC to Add Office of Economics and Data by Year-End
Thursday, April 06, 2017 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he is beginning a process to establish an Office of Economics and Data (OED), which will combine economists and other data professionals from around the commission by the end of the year.

“I envision it providing economic analysis for rulemakings, transactions and auctions; managing the commission’s data resources; and conducting longer-term research on ways to improve the commission’s policies,” he said during a speech at the Hudson Institute.

Pai said the FCC is establishing a working group of economists at the FCC that will be charged with thinking about basic questions. A plan of action will be in place by this summer with the new office up and running by the end of 2017, he said.

The OED would give economists early input into the decision-making process, “The FCC’s rulemakings, transactional reviews and auctions have direct and tangible impacts,” Pai said. “It is therefore especially important that economics be incorporated at the beginning, not the end, of the deliberative process with respect to these functions.”

Pai said he expects the working group will propose ways in which the commission’s rules should be modified and the office should be integrated into the FCC’s work, allowing it to be structurally and culturally inclined to incorporate economic thinking.

OED would ensure better management of data, reports and analyses. The OED would make sure that choices are informed by sound economic principles and solid data. The office could also take a careful look at paperwork filing requirements imposed by the commission to make sure it is collecting information that’s duplicative or unnecessary.

OED would also incorporate strategic, long-term thinking into the FCC’s processes.

“We intend to restore the tradition of staff economists spending time thinking about the future and publishing in the present influential white papers that keep us from being stuck in the past,” Pai said. “We need bright people who can focus on big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking.”

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