On Tuesday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives adopted by voice  vote the FCC Process Reform Act (H.R. 3675) which aims to “maximize  opportunities for public participation and efficient decision-making” at the  agency by improving transparency and accountability. Sponsored by House  Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden  (R-OR), the measure requires the FCC to enact rules that would establish  minimum comment and reply comment periods for rulemaking proceedings  and set forth procedures for ensuring that the public is given ample notice and  opportunity to respond to comments and other documents. The bill also allows  three or more FCC commissioners to engage in private, closed-door  consultations during the “sunshine period” that precedes open meetings. It  further directs the FCC to seek public comment on whether a bipartisan  majority of FCC commissioners should be permitted to place items on an open  meeting agenda or publish in advance the text of agenda items on which the  FCC will vote. Under current rules, the FCC chairman holds the exclusive right  to place items on the agenda. To further promote transparency, the legislation  also requires the FCC to (1) provide information on its website regarding its  budget, appropriations and public performance plan, (2) improve public access  to consumer complaints through the establishment of a searchable database,  (3) complete actions necessary for the required publication of documents in the  Federal Register within specified time frames, and (4) report annually to  Congress on the agency’s performance. The measure now moves to the Senate  where it will be considered alongside companion legislation that was  introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) last year. As ranking House  Communications Subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) applauded the  bill as one that “gives the FCC flexibility to evaluate and adopt procedural  changes to its rules, rather than putting rigid requirements in statute,” Walden  told reporters that, while “we welcome [FCC] Chairman Wheeler’s dedication to  improving operations at the Commission . . . legislation is still necessary to get  the reforms on the books.”