FCC: Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 1997

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-07-28.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      July 28, 1997

      The Honorable John McCain
      The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
      The Honorable John D. Dingell
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Federal Communications Commission: Assessment and Collection of
                 Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 1997

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on
      a major rule promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, entitled
      "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 1997" (MD Docket
      No. 96-186, FCC 97-215). We received the rule on June 30, 1997. It was published
      in the Federal Register as a final rule on July 11, 1997. 62 Fed. Reg. 37408.

      The Commission's Report and Order adopts rule changes to revise its Schedule of
      Regulatory Fees in order to recover the costs specified by Congress for its
      enforcement, policy and rulemaking, international activities, and user information
      services. 47 U.S.C. § 159(a).

      Section 9 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, provides for the annual
      assessment and collection of regulatory fees. 47 U.S.C. § 159(b)(2). For fiscal year
      1997, Congress determined that the Commission should recover $152,523,000 in
      costs, an amount that is 20.6 percent higher than that required in fiscal year 1996.

Therefore, the Commission had to revise its fee schedule in order to meet the
increased revenue requirements.

In addition to adjusting the fee schedule to ensure collection of the $152,523,000,
the Report and Order also amends the fee schedule so as to assess fees upon
licensees and/or regulatees of services not previously subject to payment of fees, to
simplify and streamline the fee schedule, and to clarify and/or revise certain
payment procedures as provided for in section 9(b)(3) of the Communications Act
of 1934, as amended. 47 U.S.C. § 159(b)(3).

Enclosed is our assessment of the Federal Communications Commission's
compliance with the procedural steps required by sections 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through
(iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. Our review indicates that the Federal
Communications Commission complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact Kathleen E. Wannisky,
Associate General Counsel for Operations, at (202) 512-5207. The official
responsible for GAO evaluation work relating to the Federal Communications
Commission is John H. Anderson, Director of Transportation and
Telecommunications Issues. Mr. Anderson can be reached at (202) 512-2834.

Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel


cc: Mr. Andrew S. Fishel
    Managing Director
    Federal Communications Commission

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      ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                               ISSUED BY
                   (MD Docket No. 96-186, FCC 97-215)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The Commission stated in its submission to us that it was not required to prepare
and did not prepare a cost-benefit analysis.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607 and 609

Section 603: Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

The proposed rulemaking, 62 Fed. Reg. 10793 (March 10, 1997), incorporated an
initial regulatory flexibility analysis of the expected impact on small businesses.
The Commission sought written public comments on the proposed rulemaking,
including comments on the initial regulatory flexibility analysis.

The analysis included in the proposed rulemaking provides the information required
by paragraphs 603(b)(1) and (2). It describes the reasons for the proposed agency
action and its objectives and legal basis. The information required by paragraphs
603(b)(3) and (4) concerning an estimate of the classes of small entities subject to
the Report and Order and the projected reporting, record-keeping and other
compliance requirements of the proposed rule is also included. In accordance with
section 603(b)(5), the Commission notes that the proposed Report and Order does
not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any other relevant federal rule.

Finally, the Commission solicited comments on the alternative methods of assessing
the regulatory fees discussed in the proposed rule in compliance with section

Section 604: Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Appendix A to the Report and Order includes the full text of the Commission's final
regulatory flexibility analysis. 62 Fed. Reg. 37408 at 37424. The Commission
satisfies the requirements of section 604(a). It describes the need for and objective
of the Report and Order. It also describes the comments submitted in response to

the initial regulatory flexibility analysis regarding the definition of small entities
Specialized Mobile Radio licensees who are subject to regulatory fee payments. The
analysis describes the small entities affected by the rulemaking and the projected
reporting, record-keeping and other compliance requirements.

Finally, the Commission describes the steps taken to minimize the economic impact
on small entities.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

As an independent regulatory agency, the Commission is not subject to Title II of
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under Acts and Executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The Commission promulgated the rule under the notice and comment procedures of
5 U.S.C. § 553. A notice of proposed rulemaking was published on March 10, 1997.
62 Fed. Reg. 10793. The Commission received comments and reply comments on
the rule from 26 commenters, representing licensees and trade associations.

The Commission indicates that it gave full consideration to the comments filed by
all interested parties and, in response to these comments, provided a more detailed
description of the new cost accounting system used to determine how fees will be
assessed. A detailed discussion of the comments and the Commission's
consideration appears at 62 Fed. Reg. 37409-37413.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

This Final Report and Order is subject to the Act since the Commission requires
licensees to complete and file a form FCC 159 with the payment of their annual fee.
The Commission has received Office of Management and Budget clearance for this
information collection requirement (OMB # 3060-0589).

Statutory authorization for the rule

Authorization for this rulemaking is contained in sections 4(i) and (j), 9, and 303(r)
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § § 154(i) and (j) and
159 and 303(r). In addition, Congress specifically mandated that the Commission
collect $152,523,000 in regulatory fees for FY97 to recover the costs of enforcement,
policy and rulemaking, international and user information activities. Pub. L. No.

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The Commission did not identify any other statutes or executive orders imposing
requirements relevant to the Report and Order.

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