The House has adopted a Florida representative’s amendment requiring that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) be more accountable for how it handles public disclosure requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said that his amendment would help shed light on controversial FCC proceedings, and curb a lack-of-disclosure problem demonstrated by the agency’s high rate of denial of FOIA requests.
In a news release, Diaz-Balart said the need for transparency was exemplified by the year-long process under which the FCC handled an application by communications venture LightSquared to run a wireless network using technology shown to interfere with GPS signals. LightSquared’s application, which Diaz-Balart described as politically influenced, was eventually placed under suspension after a drawn-out controversy and opposition by AOPA and other GPS users across many industries.
“My amendment was in response to overwhelming data demonstrating the FCC’s apparent lack of transparency and openness with the American people. In FY 2011, the FCC denied more than 46 % of the FOIA requests it processed, compared to about 7% across the entire federal government,” he said.
Diaz-Balart’s amendment was adopted and included in H.R. 3309, the Federal Communications Commission Reform Act of 2012, which passed the House on March 27. He said it would help advance the bipartisan goal of open government.
“President Obama and (FCC) Chairman (Julius) Genachowski have publicly stated that they will be the most open and transparent administration in history, which is a goal I think we all share. My amendment will provide accountability and shed light on controversies like the one dealing with LightSquared, which appears to have political ties,” he said.
“We appreciate Congressman Diaz-Balart’s leadership in holding the FCC accountable and believe this amendment sends a powerful message to the administration,” said Lorraine Howerton, vice president of legislative affairs at AOPA.