FCC Seeks to Change Procedures for Administrative Hearings
Monday, September 09, 2019 | Comments

The FCC is seeking comment on procedural changes that, if adopted, the commission said would streamline many administrative hearings under the Communications Act of 1934.

The hearings typically are conducted like trials in civil litigation and include, among other things, live testimony before an administrative law judge, cross-examination of witnesses, and an initial decision by the administrative law judge that is subject to review by the commission. The FCC said such trial-type hearings are costly and impose significant burdens and delays on both applicants and the agency that may not be necessary.

The new procedures outlined by the FCC are designed to supplement the administrative law judge referral process and promote more efficient resolution of hearings. If adopted, the proposals would codify and expand the use of a process that would rely on written testimony and documentary evidence in lieu of live testimony and cross examination; enable FCC staff to act as a case manager to supervise development of the written hearing record when the commission designates itself as the presiding officer at a hearing; and dispense with the preparation of an intermediate opinion whenever the record of a proceeding can be certified to the FCC for final decision.

The proposed procedures would expedite the commission’s hearing processes while ensuring transparency and procedural fairness, the FCC said.

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 45 days after publication. The full notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is here.

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