Sens. look to probe technical expertise at FCC

And oft-heard refrain from opponents of government meddling in highly technical fields such as IT goes that bureaucrats lack the engineering chops to make informed decisions about the industries they regulate, so they’re best advised to take a hands-off approach.

Perhaps in no agency has this friction been more evident than the Federal Communications Commission, the so-called expert agency on matters of Internet policy.

The commission, for instance, was directed by Congress to offer its expert counsel to the two agencies doling out stimulus money for broadband projects. And yet, when it comes to something like the turgid debate over net neutrality, critics blast the FCC for trying to make bright-line rules about immensely complex networking technologies.

But a pair of senators is looking to address that shortcoming. Sens. Olympia Snows (R-Maine) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) today introduced legislation that would commission the National Academy of Science to undertake a thoroughgoing study of the FCC’s technical capacity, analyzing its staffing levels, recruiting and hiring efforts.

“It is critical that we include engineers in our nation’s technical policy and decision making, at the FCC and across the government,” Kaufman said in a statement.

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