Sen. Olympia Snowe introduces a bill that would let each FCC commissioner to add one electrical engineer or computer scientist to their staffs.
A bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. Senate would potentially add one electrical engineer or computer scientist within each of the offices of the five FCC Commissioners.
Introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Senate Bill 2881 would authorize each FCC commissioner to add one staff assistant position to the three that are currently authorized.
The new position of “staff engineer” would require that the holder either have a degree in electrical engineering or be a computer scientist.
Vinny Lopez, president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, said: “Ensuring the technical integrity of the FCC decision making is perhaps our most important legislative goal. This legislation will go a long way toward returning technical expertise to the FCC commissioner’s offices.”
Lopez added, “We encourage other members of the Senate to support this well-crafted legislation. SBE will seek the introduction of a companion bill in the House and we will urge rapid passage of both Bills in the House and the Senate.
The proposed legislation, which would amend the Communications Act of 1934, explains that the “staff engineer” would provide each commissioner with technical consultation when appropriate and interface with the Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC bureaus and other technical staff of the commission for additional technical input and resources. The staff engineer would need to hold an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution of higher education in their respective field of expertise.
The last serious attempt to increase the technical resources within the commissioner’s offices was in October of 1991 when then-Rep. Don Ritter introduced HR. 3501, which would have required that at least one member of the commission be skilled in the engineering sciences.
The Snowe bill would not seek to replace any of the existing staff assistants in each commissioner’s office but rather authorize each commissioner to add one assistant.