Democrat and Republican leaders in the House notified FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on Tuesday that the House Energy and Commerce Committee—with the backing of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations—will investigate the FCC’s management practices to determine whether the agency is conducting its business “in a fair, open, efficient and transparent manner.” Signed by Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI), ranking committee member Joe Barton (R-TX), Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI), and ranking subcommittee member John Shimkus (R-IL), Tuesday’s letter is a follow-on to Dingell’s correspondence with Martin last month in which Dingell took issue with repeated delays in the start times of FCC open meetings during 2007 and with Martin’s alleged failure to provide his fellow commissioners and the public with sufficient time to review and respond to proposed FCC rule changes. The lawmakers told Martin that they would issue “a comprehensive document review request in the near future” and would also order Congressional investigators to interview FCC employees and “other witnesses.” While reminding Martin of his duty to retain all electronic records, agency e-mails, calendars, and schedules of FCC employees until “the committee makes its formal records request,” the lawmakers advised Martin to inform all FCC employees immediately about “their right to communicate with Congress.” Although an FCC spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday’s letter, Martin told Dingell last month that “many of the delays we have experienced with respect to the starting time of open meetings have resulted because commissioners have waited until 24 or 48 hours before the designated start of the Commission meeting to provide input, and have continued to provide edits up to and past the time the meeting was scheduled to begin.”
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House Commerce Committee launches probe into FCC management
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