WASHINGTON, March 7, 2018 - Local government officials seeking to offer a corrective tonic on broadband deployment to the Federal Communications Commission may consider applying for the expanded Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.
Nominations for the more-than-10-year-old group are due on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m. ET, according to a public notice published by the FCC on January 11.
The group's mission is to provide elected municipal officers, county officers, a governor, state legislators, and other local officials with the opportunity to influence communications policy.
The group has historically been composed of 15 members, and recently suffered the additional loss when member Ed Lee, the Mayor San Francisco, passed away in December 2017.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has pushed to expand the group from its prior composition of 15 member to 30 members. Of those 30, a minimum of 4 shall be city mayors or city council members, 3 shall be state legislators, 3 shall be Native American Tribal representatives, 2 shall be county officials, with at least one governor, public utility commissioner, and local government attorney, respectively.
The remaining 15 slots are to be composed of similar elected or appointed local government officials.
Criticisms of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee
Some on the long-standing Intergovernmental Advisory Committee have been critical of last year's active push through a rival advisory body, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee.
The BDAC was announced on January 31, 2017, and has assembled an array of telecommunications industry observers centered around streamlining siting communications facilities on federal lands, competitive access to broadband infrastructure, and proposed model codes for states and cities.
However, only one local government representative, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, was included on the initial BDAC, although two other local officials -- Lenexa, Kansas, Mayor Andy Huckaba and Georgia Municipal Association Executive Director Larry Hanson -- were subsequently added.
In January 2018, Liccardo resigned from the BDAC in protest after their January 23-24 meting.
Liccardo said BDAC will 'further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public'
“When I joined this committee, I hoped that I could contribute to developing balanced, common-sense recommendations that will advance our goal of expanding broadband access for all Americans, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai identified as his ‘top priority’ at yesterday’s meeting,” Liccardo said in a statement.
“It has become abundantly clear, however, that Chairman Pai and the FCC merely pay lip service to the goal of digital equity, and this body will simply serve to further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public interest," said the first-term Democratic mayor, who is up for reelection this November.
At its January meeting, the group received reports from each of the major working groups, and also considered progress on the proposed model codes for states and municipalities.
The next BDAC meeting will be held on April 25, 2018, and is scheduled to receive reports from working groups, including the proposed model codes.
A corrective to BDAC from the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee?
Local government critics of the BDAC -- including several members of the IAC-- say that they have diminishing hopes that local government opinions will be reflected in the final BDAC product.
IAC is a standing advisory committee, and its members serve for a two-year term that begins with its first meeting. Members need to re-apply after two years, and the IAC does change frequently.
Additionally, IGA has a more comprehensive history and legacy than the one-year-old BDAC. Prior members of the group include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Lenexa Mayor Huckaba (now on the BDAC), Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Virginia Gov. Terence McAuliffe, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and others.
Pai had pressed the FCC to expand the IGA size over the objection of others at the agency, including Mignon Clyburn. The FCC voted to expand the body in December, and the public notice was published on January 11 of this year.
Application process for the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee
Although the deadline is on Monday, agency official Carmen Scanlon said the elements that must be received by that date include a letter of interest, a resume showcasing the public official's expertise and activities in the field of communication, and contact information.
Also unlike the BDAC, the IAC is exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That is so because IAC officials are all “elected or appointed local government" officials, and must be on the staff of the municipal or county government represented and be part of the governmental process.
This is done, Scanlon said, "to ensure that the Committee can continue to operate with the informality and flexibility that have proven so effective in the past and that inhere in its FACA-exempt status."
From the FCC's Public Notice on the IAC:
The Commission is especially interested in candidates with expertise in communications and information technology, and candidates representing rural and Tribal areas, especially candidates with expertise in the challenges of rural broadband adoption.
APPLICATIONS AND SELECTION
Interested candidates should submit their applications to the Commission. Please note that applicants will be serving on the IAC as representatives of their jurisdictions and not as representatives of any organizations that may recommend them. Applications may be submitted as follows: (1) online via email; and/or (2) hardcopy via mail. Applications must be received by no later than 6 pm 60 days from the release of this PN.
Applications submitted via email must be sent to IGA@fcc.gov. Hard copy applications submitted via mail must be addressed to:
Attn: Carmen Scanlon, Attorney Advisor
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
The application does not require a particular format but must include the following information:
- Resume (including applicant’s current position);
- Contact information (both email and mailing addresses, as well as telephone numbers);
- A brief description of the applicant’s area of expertise and qualifications to serve on the IAC, including the applicant’s experience with telecommunications issues affecting local, state, or Tribal governments. Candidates are encouraged to provide links to any articles they have authored on relevant topics and/or public appearances available on the web for viewing; and,
- The position(s) that the applicant is applying for, i.e., elected municipal officials (city mayors and city council members); county officials (county commissioners or council members); elected or appointed local government attorney; elected state executive (Governor or Lieutenant Governor); elected state legislators; elected or appointed public utilities or public service commissioner; or elected or appointed Native American Tribal representatives. If an applicant potentially qualifies for more than one position on the IAC, he or she should specify which position(s) they seek.
Once the Chairman of the Commission selects the new IAC members, the Commission will release a Public Notice announcing the appointments.
(Photo of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee at their last meeting in October 2017 from the FCC.)