It looks as if the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) could use Sunlight’s database expertise.
Wired.com writes about a GAO report issued earlier this week that blasts the agency for doing an "appalling job" of tracking, responding and resolving complaints regarding telecommunications services. GAO’s report states:
Limitations in FCC’s current approach for collecting and analyzing enforcement data constitute the principal challenge FCC faces in providing complete and accurate information on its enforcement program… Limitations in FCC’s current approach for collecting and analyzing enforcement data constitute the principal challenge FCC faces in providing complete and accurate information on its enforcement program.
Rep. Ed Markey, chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, requested the investigation that focused on the agency’s enforcement efforts between 2003 and 2006.
How bad is it? Bad.
FCC’s enforcement bureau uses five separate databases and "manually searches tens of thousands of paper case files to track and monitor the extent to which each of its divisions takes enforcement action within its statute of limitations requirement for assessing fines or the time it takes to close an enforcement case…The FCC received about 454,000 complaints between 2003 and 2006. The agency responded to most of the complaints with a letter of acknowledgment. It investigated 10 percent of those complaints over those three years, say the GAO…It concluded 39,000 of those investigations –and less than 10 percent of them ended with an enforcement action, according to the GAO…The majority — 83 percent of the investigations — resulted in no enforcement action.
The GAO could not determine why the FCC failed to act on such a high percentage of complaints because the agency fails to systematically collect information on its investigations. GAO’s overall conclusion, Wired.com writes, is that the FCC needs to set itself measurable goals for its enforcement bureau and to develop the tools to more systematically track its enforcement efforts.
You would think that the agency charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable would be significantly more engaged with the tools of the internet age…But I guess not.