News from November 11-15, 2003

Ashcroft Defends PATRIOT Act in Speech

11/15. Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington DC in which he defended the PATRIOT Act.

He stated that "Throughout the Patriot Act, tools provided to fight terrorism require that the same predication be established before a federal judge as with similar tools provided to fight other crime."

"In addition, the Patriot Act includes yet another layer of judicial scrutiny by providing a civil remedy in the event of abuse. Section 223 of the Patriot Act allows citizens to seek monetary damages for willful violations of the Patriot Act. This civil remedy serves as a further deterrent against infringement upon individual liberties", said Ashcroft. "Given our overly litigious society, you are probably wondering how many such civil cases have been filed to date. It is a figure as astronomical as the library searches. Zero."

"There is a simple reason for this", he said; "the Patriot has not been used to infringe upon individual liberty."

He concluded that "Many of you have heard the hue and cry from critics of the Patriot Act who allege that liberty has been eroded. But more telling is what you have not heard. You have not heard of one single case in which a judge has found an abuse of the Patriot Act because, again, there have been no abuses."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on November 18, 2003, to "examine America after the 9/11 terrorist attacks". The scheduled witnesses include Viet Dinh, who is now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, but who was previously Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Policy. He was active in drafting the PATRIOT Act. The witness list also includes critics of the PATRIOT Act, and the Department of Justice's implementation of the Act.

Attorney General Ashcroft is not a scheduled witness. Nor did he testify at the Committee's previous hearing that addressed the PATRIOT Act. See, story titled "Senate Committee Holds Hearing on PATRIOT Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 763, October 22, 2003. While Ashcroft has not appeared before either the House or Senate Judiciary Committees recently, he has given several unannounced speeches to friendly audiences.

More News

11/15. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced in a release that Deputy USTR Josette Shiner will visit the People's Republic of China from November 15 through 19 for meetings in Beijing and Qingdao. It stated that "Topping the agenda will be intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement ..."

GAO Reports that Treasury Department Has Information Security Weaknesses

11/14. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [36 pages in PDF] titled "Information Security: Improvements Needed in Treasury's Security Management Program".

The GAO, which is an arm of the U.S. Congress, found that "The Department of the Treasury and its key bureaus have not consistently implemented information security controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their information systems and data."

The GAO continued that "longstanding information security weaknesses in access and software change controls, segregation of duties, and service continuity have been consistently identified at certain key Treasury bureaus, such as IRS and the Financial Management Service. Weaknesses at these bureaus place the sensitive information managed by the bureaus at increased risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. Moreover, bureaus have not consistently implemented key information security requirements. An analysis of performance data for the 11 Treasury bureaus that reported on these requirements for fiscal years 2002 and 2003 reveals that most Treasury systems did not meet certain key information security requirements in fiscal year 2003 and that the percentage of systems that meet certain requirements has decreased from fiscal year 2002".

The GAO also wrote that "The information security weaknesses and inconsistent implementation of security controls at Treasury bureaus exist, in part, because Treasury’s departmentwide security program, while evolving, has not yet been fully institutionalized across the entire department."

It concludes that "Until Treasury can fully implement its departmentwide program and adequately mitigate known weaknesses, increased risk exists that individuals could gain unauthorized access to critical hardware and software, and intentionally or inadvertently use, disclose, disrupt, modify, or destroy sensitive data or computer programs."

The report was prepared for Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) and Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

DC Circuit Rules on Appeal in Ranger Cellular v. FCC

11/14. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion [13 pages in PDF] in Ranger Cellular v. FCC (No. 02-1155), an appeal from an order of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejecting Ranger Cellular's and Miller Communication's (appellants) challenge to four licenses issued by the FCC to provide cellular phone service in rural markets.

Previously, on July 1, 2003, the Appeals Court issued an opinion [12 pages in PDF] in Ranger Cellular v. FCC (No. 02-1093), denying petitions for review of the FCC's award of the cellular licenses. This opinion was reported at 333 F.3d 255. See also, story titled "DC Circuit Rules in Ranger Cellular v. FCC" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 693, July 8,2003.

The FCC previously awarded licenses for use of spectrum through either a comparative hearing or a lottery. The appellants filed applications in 1988 and 1989 to participate in a lottery for Rural Service Area (RSA) cellular telephone licenses. The FCC awarded most of the licenses, but by the mid 1990s six licenses for RSAs were still pending due to the disqualification or withdrawal of the original winner.

In the present opinion, the Appeals Court held that the appellants lack standing to challenge the validity of the licenses. It dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Also, the Court held that appellants have standing to challenge the FCC's denial of their alternative demand for a refund of their filing fees; however, the Court affirmed that denial because it was based on a reasonable reading of the FCC's regulation.

Judge Garland wrote the opinion. Judges Edwards and Randolph joined.

This case is Ranger Cellular and Miller Communications, Inc. v. FCC and USA, appellees, Commnet of Florida LLC, et al., intervenors, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 02-1155, an appeal of a final order of the FCC.

More News

11/14. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a release summarizing the activities and operations of its Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA).

11/14. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a Stipulated Final Order for Permanent Injunction [15 pages in PDF] with the U.S. District Court (SDNY) in FTC v. Tecnozone International, a civil action against con artists purporting to sell products that block harmful radiation from cell phones and video display units. See also, FTC release. This case is FTC v. Tecnozone International, LLC, Tecnozone America LLC, Marvin Jemal, Stephen Jemal, and Jacob Dresdner, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 03 CV 9000.

FCC Adopts Report and Order Allocating More Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced, but did not release, a Report and Order to provide an additional 255 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed wireless devices operating in the 5 GHz region. The FCC issued only a short press release [2 pages in PDF] summarizing its action.

The main use of this spectrum will likely be 802.11 (Wi-Fi) and Bluetooth devices. The additional spectrum will be in the 5.470-5.725 GHz band. It would be available for use by unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices, including Radio Local Area Networks (RLANs), operating under Part 15 of the FCC's rules. See, full story.

FCC Announces NOI/NPRM on Interference Temperature Model

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced, but did not release, a Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the "interference temperature" method of quantifying and managing interference among different services. The FCC issued only a short press release [2 pages in PDF] describing this item.

The FCC release states that "this model for addressing interference takes into account the actual cumulative radiofrequency (RF) energy from transmissions of spectrum-based devices, and would set a maximum cap on the aggregate of these transmissions. In contrast, the current approach for managing interference focuses on specifying and limiting the transmit powers of individual spectrum-based devices as the chief way to prevent interference."

The releases also states that this NPRM "seeks comment on various technical rules that would establish procedures and use the interference temperature model on a limited basis in the following two bands: 6525-6700 MHz and portions of the 12.75-13.25 GHz bands." It adds that "these procedures would enable unlicensed devices to operate in these bands, which are used primarily for satellite uplinks and fixed point-to-point microwave services. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also seeks comment on whether the possible introduction of unlicensed operation into these bands would impact these existing services."

FCC Chairman Michael Powell wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "The introduction of a new ``interference temperature´´ model has the potential to tremendously improve radio spectrum management. Rather than assess interference based solely on transmitter operations, the interference temperature model introduced in the Commission's Spectrum Policy Task Force Report takes into account the cumulative effects of all undesired radio frequency energy. The marketplace demands for spectrum require that we explore new ways to use this resource more efficiently."

Commissioner Michael Copps wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "the idea has great promise".

In contrast, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "this is one of the more controversial proposals" to come out of the SPTF's report [73 pages in PDF].

Jonathan AdelsteinAdelstein (at right) wrote that "I support the discussion in the item considering the application of the interference temperature approach to unlicensed operations in the 6525-6700 MHz and 12.75-13.25 GHz bands, I do not believe that this portion of the item should be styled as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, as opposed to remaining part of the Notice of Inquiry. I think it is very clear that we are exploring an entirely new concept in the interference temperature model, and it is quite premature to actually discuss proposed rules when the Commission has not even engaged in a preliminary discussion on the interference temperature approach as a whole."

Steve Largent, P/CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), stated in a release that "Spectrum is a limited resource, and the wireless industry understands the need for exploration of new and creative ways to use this scarce commodity. But the FCC must take care to ensure that a new and untried spectrum management technique not be allowed to disrupt the millions of consumers already utilizing the airwaves ... An interference temperature approach should only be considered if it can be shown, based on real world tests, that current consumers would not experience interference as a result of the new uses."

This is FCC 03-289 in ET Docket No. 03-237.

Powell Praises FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Spectrum Policy Task Force (SPTF) reported to the FCC at its November 13 meeting on steps taken during the past year to implement spectrum policy reform, and initiatives planned for the next 12 to 18 months. See, FCC release [PDF].

Chairman Michael Powell wrote in a statement [PDF] that "the Spectrum Policy Task Force Report has provided the intellectual and policy foundation for the Commission's spectrum work. ... The Commission has considered and incorporated the Task Force's findings and recommendations in a number of spectrum allocation and licensing proceedings, including the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) Report and Order and the Interference Temperature item adopted today."

Powell formed the SPTF in June of 2002. It solicited comments and held hearings, outside of the context of any rule making proceeding. See, story titled "Powell Creates Task Force to Conduct Spectrum Inquiry" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 446, June 7, 2002. The FCC announced its report on November 7, 2002. See, story titled "FCC Announces Report on Spectrum Policy" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 545, November 8, 2002. The SPTF released its Report [73 pages in PDF] on November 15, 2002.

FCC Expands Universal Service Support for Rural Clinics and Telemedicine

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted, but did not release, an item titled "Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking". It expands the entities eligible for universal service subsidies for rural health clinics. It also expands the services that qualify for subsidies. The FCC issued only a press release [2 pages in PDF] describing this item.

The FCC's release states that "With today's action, the FCC is seeking to increase participation in the rural health care support program, which is capped at $400 million annually. Demand for Funding Year 2001 averaged $14 million, or only 3.5% of the possible discounts."

While the statute provides that only a "public or nonprofit health care provider" is eligible, the FCC's release states that a "Dedicated emergency departments of rural for-profit hospitals will become eligible to receive prorated support". It also states that "Non-profit entities that function as health care providers on a part-time basis will be eligible to receive prorated support".

Also, while the statute provides that only "telecommunications services" are covered, the FCC's release states that the subsidies will now also cover "Internet access" services.

The release also states that the order revises standards for urban area rate comparisons.

Michael PowellFCC Chairman Michael Powell (at right) wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "Telemedicine creates medical expertise on demand for people living in rural America. The telemedicine support measures we adopt today have the potential to bring millions of Americans from rural and remote parts of the country closer than ever to top quality doctors and medical specialists. Geographic isolation should no longer be a barrier to timely, quality medical care."

Powell added that "Innovations in computing and telecommunications technology, however, allow doctors to perform many medical procedures even though hundreds or even thousands of miles separate doctor and patient."

Chairman Powell also discussed this item in a speech [3 pages in PDF] on November 7 at the University of Virginia's Office of Telemedicine. See also, story titled "FCC To Consider Item Expanding Eligibility for Support for Rural Clinics" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 775, November 10, 2003.

FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "We often talk about the benefits of broadband services, but telemedicine may be the most important application of them all. Telemedicine has the potential to make it irrelevant whether a patient lives in a downtown urban area or on a mountaintop."

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps wrote in a separate statement [PDF] that "This is a program that we need to put to work. We need to put it to work because rural America lags the rest of the country in access to premium health care".

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote a separate statement [PDF] that there "There are only winners in today's decision." None of the Commissioners mentioned who bears the financial burden of supporting the universal service fund, or how this item might impact them.

Statutory authority for this program is codified at 47 U.S.C. § 254(h)(1)(A). It provides, in full, that "A telecommunications carrier shall, upon receiving a bona fide request, provide telecommunications services which are necessary for the provision of health care services in a State, including instruction relating to such services, to any public or nonprofit health care provider that serves persons who reside in rural areas in that State at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas in that State. A telecommunications carrier providing service under this paragraph shall be entitled to have an amount equal to the difference, if any, between the rates for services provided to health care providers for rural areas in a State and the rates for similar services provided to other customers in comparable rural areas in that State treated as a service obligation as a part of its obligation to participate in the mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service."

This subsection only addresses "telecommunications services". The order provides that "Internet access" services are covered by this program. While the FCC has not yet released the text of its order explaining its reasoning, the apparent implication is that "Internet access" services provided to rural health care providers are "telecommunications services".

In contrast, the FCC wrote in its wireline broadband NPRM that "we tentatively conclude that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, the provision of wireline broadband Internet access service is an information service. In addition, we tentatively conclude that when an entity provides wireline broadband Internet access service over its own transmission facilities, this service, too, is an information service under the Act." This is Docket 02-33. The FCC adopted this NPRM [58 pages in PDF] at its February 14, 2002 meeting. See also, the FCC's notice in the Federal Register. This NPRM pertains to the appropriate regulatory framework for broadband access to the Internet over wireline facilities.

Similarly, the FCC wrote in its cable modem service Declaratory Ruling and NPRM that "we conclude that cable modem service, as it is currently offered, is properly classified as an interstate information service, not as a cable service, and that there is no separate offering of telecommunications service." This is Docket No. 00-185 and Docket No. 02-52. The FCC adopted this Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [75 pages in PDF] at its March 14, 2002 meeting.

So, perhaps, if a broadband cable or wireline internet service provider provides service to a rural health clinic, it is providing an information service, for the purpose of the regulatory classification of those service providers, but when that rural health care receives that service, it is receiving telecommunications service for the purposes of determining its eligibility for support under Section 254.

The FCC adopted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) [35 pages in PDF] in this proceeding, which is titled "In the Matter of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Regarding the Universal Service Support Mechanism for Rural Healthcare", on April 18, 2002. It released this NPRM on April 19, 2002. This is WC Docket No. 02-60.

FCC Announces Report and Order Regarding E911 Rules

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced, but did not release, a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the scope of its enhanced 911 rules. The FCC issued only a short press release [PDF] describing this item.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell wrote in a separate statement [PDF] "Our balanced approach takes into consideration reasonable consumer expectations regarding access to emergency call features, the need to deploy life saving services in times of crisis, and the needs of entities offering various services and devices to compete in a competitive marketplace."

He summarized the order: "we revise and broaden the scope of our existing enhanced 911 (E911) rules to clarify the obligation of mobile satellite services (MSS), telematics services, multi-line telephone systems, resold and pre-paid calling services, and disposable phones to provide E911capabilities. In the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we seek additional comment, concerning MSS carriers with integrated ancillary terrestrial component (ATC), and their ability to comply with our location accuracy standards. In addition, our continued participation with local and state public safety organizations and private industry, such as the FCC’s E911 Coordination Initiative, will further encourage the full deployment of prompt emergency response."

The FCC release states that "In today's Order, the FCC considered and addressed the E911 obligations of the following telecommunications services: mobile satellite services (MSS); telematics services, which are services provided by in-vehicle communications systems; multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) that allow multiline businesses and multi-tenant buildings to eliminate the need for an external line for each telephone within their operation using private branch exchanges (PBXs); resold wireless services, including prepaid services; and disposable wireless phones."

The release states that "the FCC concluded that the following services should be subject to its E911 requirements: certain telematics services and resold cellular and broadband PCS mobile wireless services, including mobile pre-paid calling cards. MSS carriers that provide interconnected voice service are required to establish call centers for the purpose of answering 911 calls and forwarding such calls to an appropriate PSAP."

It also states that "Regarding telematics services, the FCC decided that only those providers that offer interconnected commercial wireless voice services, in addition to standard telematics services such as navigational and roadside assistance, would be subject to the FCC’s E911 requirements."

It also states that "Today's Order establishes that resellers of wireless services offered over cellular and broadband PCS spectrum are obligated to provide E911 services to their customers under the FCC’s E911 requirements."

And, its states that "This Order also addresses the E911 compatibility of multi-line telephone systems or ``MLTS.´´ Multi-line telephone systems allow businesses and multi-tenant residential building owners to provide service to their users more efficiently, by eliminating the need for an external line for each individual telephone within their operation. Given the particular requirements of E911 over multi-line telephone systems, the Order concludes that for now state and local governments are in a better position to devise rules to ensure that E911 is effectively deployed over MLTS in their jurisdictions. Accordingly, the Order does not adopt national regulations at this time."

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps wrote a separate statement [PDF] in which he addressed voice over internet protocol (VOIP). He wrote that "I note that as the Commission continues its examination of IP telephony, we must keep 911 issues in mind. We need to find a way to allow this technology to bring much needed new competition to our consumers without undermining the ubiquity of our 911 system."

See also, the separate statement [PDF] of Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, the separate statement [PDF] of Commissioner Kevin Martin, and the separate statement [PDF] of Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

This is FCC 03-290 in CC Docket No. 94-102 and IB Docket No. 99-67.

SEC Files Complaint Against Former Gateway Officers

11/13. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint [48 pages in PDF] in U.S. District Court (SDCal) against three former officers of Gateway, Inc. -- Jeffrey Weitzen, John J. Todd, and Robert D. Manza. The complaint alleges violation of federal securities laws in connection with a "fraudulent earnings manipulation scheme".

The complaint states that "This case involves a fraudulent earnings manipulation scheme to meet Wall Street analysts' expectations by San Diego-based computer manufacturer Gateway, Inc. ("Gateway" or the "Company") and certain of its senior management during the second and third quarters of 2000. Through this scheme, and by making false statements and concealing from the investing public important information about its financial performance and the success of its personal computer ("PC") business, Gateway gave the false and misleading impression that, unlike many of its competitors, it was outpacing an industry trend of decreasing sales of personal computers. In fact, throughout 2000, Gateway's sales growth from personal computers was declining significantly -- a trend that Gateway's senior management went to great lengths to conceal from the public."

The SEC seeks injunctive relief, civil money penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and orders permanently barring the defendants from serving as officers or directors of public companies.

Stephen Cutler, SEC Director of Enforcement, stated in a release that the SEC "continues to be absolutely committed to investigating and bringing complex financial fraud actions like this one. A fraud achieved through numerous small accounting tricks, as here, is just as harmful to investors as any other. We will hold accountable individuals who produce deceptive financial results, no matter what means they use."

The SEC also brought and simultaneously settled a related administrative action against Gateway. See, order instituting cease and desist proceeding. See also, Gateway release.

People and Appointments

11/13. Blaise Scinto was named Special Counsel for Spectrum Policy in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's (WTB) Office of the Bureau Chief. She will oversee the WTB's implementation of the Spectrum Policy Task Force's (SPTF) recommendations and other spectrum policy initiatives. She has worked for the FCC since 1995. Before that, she was an associate in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Winston & Strawn. See, FCC release.

11/13. Tom DiLenge was named Chief Counsel and Policy Director of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He is currently Deputy Chief Counsel for House Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. He has worked for the Commerce Committee for six years. Steve DeVine was named Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel. He is currently the Committee’s Senior Advisor for Intelligence and Information Sharing and a Senior Counsel. He replaces Uttam Dhillon, who went to the Department of Justice in October. See, release.

More News

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and the International Bureau reported on implementation of the results of the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference at the FCC's Commission meeting on Thursday, November 13. See, FCC release [2 pages in PDF] and statement [PDF] by FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

11/13. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced, but did not release, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding earth stations on board vessels that are used to provide broadband telecommunications services on passenger, government, cargo, and recreational vessels. The FCC issued only a short press release [PDF] summarizing the NPRM. This is FCC 03-286 in IB Docket No. 02-10.

Senators Introduce Bill to Fund Technology Projects with Spectrum Auction Revenues

11/12. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S 1854, the "Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act", a bill to create a trust, funded by 30% of spectrum auction revenues, to support a variety of technology related projects.

This bill provides that "The Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer each fiscal year quarter, through fiscal year 2020, from the general fund of the Treasury to the Trust, an amount equal to 30 percent of the cash payment received by the Federal Government during the preceding fiscal year quarter from (A) auctions of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum; and (B) fees derived from the usage of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum", excluding fees imposed by the FCC to defray its costs of "operations associated with the electromagnetic spectrum".

The bill provides that the trust shall be managed by a nine member board appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate.

The bill also enumerates the uses that may be made of the trust funds. These include, "(A) to help underwrite the digitization of the collections in the Nation's universities, museums, libraries, and cultural institutions; (B) to enable schools, community colleges, universities, libraries, museums, civic organizations, cultural, arts, and humanities centers, and nonprofit agencies or organizations ... to take advantage of innovative telecommunications and information technologies; (C) to support basic and applied research, development, and demonstrations of innovative-based learning systems, including assessment tools and other system components".

The list of permitted uses  also includes "(D) to develop applications of research, including the creation of prototypes, models, and pilot projects, as well as the initial production of content and software for digital and information technologies for use in educational curricula and other educational purposes, including job training, skills training, public safety, civic information, and lifelong learning; (E) to develop innovative technologies for training and dissemination of public information for safety and homeland security; (F) to develop new tools and means of dissemination for innovative advances in job training and retraining; and (G) to conduct assessments of legal, regulatory, and other issues ..."

The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

This bill bears some similarities to HR 1396, the "Spectrum Commons and Digital Dividends Act of 2003", sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).

GAO Report on Progress in Four E-Government Initiatives

11/12. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [58 pages in PDF] titled "Electronic Government: Potential Exists for Enhancing Collaboration on Four Initiatives".

This report examines just four of the 25 e-government initiatives identified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Specifically, it examined (1) e-Payroll (an initiative to standardize payroll operations across all federal agencies), (2) Geospatial One-Stop (an initiative to help coordinate the collection and maintenance of geospatial data across all levels of government), (3) Integrated Acquisition Environment (an initiative to create electronic tools to improve federal agencies’ acquisition of goods and services), and (4) Business Gateway (an initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses and help them find, understand, and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations).

The GAO report found that "The four e-government initiatives we reviewed have made progress in meeting the objectives and milestones of their early phases. For example, Web portals were established for two of the initiatives -- for the Geospatial One-Stop initiative and for the Business Gateway. In addition, the Integrated Acquisition Environment initiative established an online capability that federal customers can use to access a variety of available interagency contracts."

However, it also found that "While the four initiatives we reviewed have all taken steps to promote collaboration with their partner agencies, none of the initiatives has been fully effective in adopting these practices to fully involve important stakeholders."

GAO Reports on Piecemeal Availability of E911

11/12. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [42 pages in PDF] titled "Telecommunications: Uneven Implementation of Wireless Enhanced 911 Raises Prospect of Piecemeal Availability for Years to Come".

The report states that "Implementation of wireless E911 is several years away in many states, raising the prospect of piecemeal availability of this service across the country for an indefinite number of years to come."

It finds that "Lack of funding for equipment upgrades and a lack of coordination among the parties involved are factors slowing the pace of the rollout of wireless E911 technologies."

It also states that "The federal government has been involved in the promotion of wireless E911, but has limited authority over the entire process. FCC has concentrated its regulatory efforts toward the wireless carriers, where it has the most enforcement authority. FCC has established implementation schedules with each of the major wireless carriers and has recently taken enforcement actions against wireless carriers that failed to meet deadlines. According to FCC, the Commission does not have clear jurisdiction over wireline carriers with regard to wireless E911 implementation and looks to the state public utility commissions, which have clear and sufficient authority, to take the lead."

This report was prepared for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications. Sen. Burns is the sponsor of S 1250, the "Enhanced 9-1-1 Emergency Communication Act of 2003", and has sponsored other E911 legislation in the past. S 1250 bill has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. The House passed a related bill last week. See, story titled "House Passes E-911 Implementation Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 773, November 6, 2003.

Sen. Burns stated in a release that "My primary concern is to improve the level of America’s public safety in a post-September 11th world, and I believe this is best accomplished through the creation of a seamless emergency response infrastructure".

People and Appointments

11/12. Charles Brown died. He was named Chairman and CEO of AT&T in 1979, replacing John DeButts. He presided at the time of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Second Computer Inquiry (Computer II) decision, William Baxter's tenure as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, and Judge Harold Greene's divestiture decree. He presided over the breakup of the old Bell system. He stepped down in 1986. See, for example, The Fall of the Bell System: A Study in Prices and Politics, by Peter Temin and Louis Galambos.

11/12. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Kevin Martin announced that Jason Williams will be a Special Assistant in his office, and that Lori Alexiou will be his Confidential Assistant. An FCC release states that "Williams joined the Commissioner's staff after completing his second year of law school at the University of Montana School of Law. While in law school, Mr. Williams interned for Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc., where he assisted the general counsel with a wide variety of regulatory and legal issues. Before law school, Mr. Williams served as Manager, Regulatory Affairs at XO Communications. He also worked in the business development group at NeuStar, Inc." Alexiou was previously a legal secretary at the law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding. Martin also previously worked at Wiley Rein.

More News

11/12. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a report titled "Spectrum Management For The 21st Century". Copies of the report are sold by the CSIS. See, release.

11/12. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a notice in the Federal Register summarizing, and setting comment deadlines for, it notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining (NPRM) to promoting spectrum based services in rural areas. The deadline to submit comments is December 29, 2003. The deadline to submit reply comments is January 26, 2003. This NPRM is FCC 03-222 in WT Docket Nos. 02-381, 01-14, and 03-202. The FCC adopted this NPRM on September 10, 2003, and released it on October 6, 2003. See, Federal Register, November 12, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 218, at Pages 64050-64072. See also, story titled "FCC Announces NPRM Regarding Regulations Affecting the Use of Spectrum in Rural Areas" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 739, September 15, 2003.

11/12. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is also known as the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA), published a notice in the Federal Register summarizing, and setting the comment deadline for, its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement a revised version of the BIS's Simplified Network Application Processing (SNAP+) system. This proposed rule also would mandate use of SNAP+ for all filings of Export License applications (except Special Comprehensive Licenses), Reexport Authorization requests, Classification requests, Encryption Review requests, and License Exception AGR notifications, unless the BIS authorizes paper filing for a particular user or transaction. The deadline to submit comments is January 12, 2004. See, Federal Register, November 12, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 218, at Pages 64009-64023.

People and Appointments

11/11. Microsoft's shareholders approved the addition of two members to its Board or Directors, Helmut Panke (BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG Chairman of the board of management) and Charles Noski (former AT&T Vice Chairman). Before joining AT&T, Noski was COO of Hughes Electronics Corp., a satellite and wireless communications business. Microsoft also announced committee assignments for its expanded board. See, Microsoft release. On September 18, Microsoft announced that it had proposed these additions. See, Microsoft release.

Go to News from November 6-10, 2003.