The FCC is Back in Business
[UPDATED: 2019-01-29 @ 2115 UTC] In the wake of the more-than-month-long partial government shutdown, the FCC said today that it would be tackling the backlog of applications already in the queue over the course of a couple days. The FCC had earlier indicated that it would resume processing Amateur Radio applications starting today. Subsequently, the Commission requested that the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) give the agency time to work through its already-pending backlog, before ARRL VEC submit any additional new files. Information released before the shutdown said the FCC would take the first day it was open, which was Monday, January 28, to get idle systems up and running again.
“The FCC has resumed all operations since the partial funding lapse has ended,” the FCC said via Twitter on Monday.
The ARRL VEC now is awaiting word that it can transmit the some 2,300 pending Amateur Radio applications it has in the queue, many of them from 325 ARRL VEC examination sessions that took place during the shutdown or immediately prior to it. These do not include files that the other 13 VECs may be waiting to upload to the Universal Licensing System (ULS). ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said the ARRL VEC won’t send all its pending files until it’s sure the system is working properly.
“We had some files already pending in their system, and then also uploaded a few new files into their system today to see if anything is happening yet,” she said earlier. Once the FCC gives the okay, “we are sending all of our files!” Somma said.
In a January 28 Public Notice addressing filing deadlines, the FCC pointed out that its filing window, mail operations, and electronic filing systems have been unavailable or unsupported during the partial shutdown, “except for filings necessary for the protection of life and property and filings related to spectrum auction activities.”
The FCC had announced in early January that all filings that would have been due during the suspension of operations, including applications to the ULS, would become due on the business day following the resumption of normal operations, January 29. “If the Commission is unable to restore electronic filing systems on the day the government reopens, the Commission may issue another Public Noticefurther extending filing deadlines.” The January 28 Public Notice said the Commission now is extending those deadlines by 1 day. “Thus, deadlines for all filings that would have been due from January 3 through January 29 are now extended until January 30, 2019,” the FCC said.
If an Amateur Radio license recently had expired or was about to expire before the shutdown, the licensee could apply for license renewal via the ULS and continue to operate while the FCC was closed, with the filed application remaining in limbo. Licensees who waited until the FCC reopened to apply will have 2 days to submit a renewal application before the license is considered to have expired in the FCC database.
The resumption of normal FCC operations means the FCC’s January 30 open meeting will be an in-person session. The Commission had made provisions for a teleconference should the shutdown not be over by the meeting date. The FCC said, however, that due to the funding lapse, items initially included in the tentative agenda published on January 3 would not be considered at this week’s meeting, which would address only “Commission announcements.”