FCC Adopts Rule Changes to Expedite Its Administrative Hearing Process

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has adopted a Report and Order (Order) changing the procedural rules governing the FCC’s administrative hearings.  Currently, many of the Commission’s administrative hearings are conducted similarly to civil litigation, including live testimony before an administrative law judge, cross-examination of witnesses, and an initial decision rendered by the judge subject to review by the Commission.  The Commission has determined that its current procedures are overly burdensome and costly and thus has adopted rule changes to expedite and simplify its hearing processes while safeguarding the rights of parties to a full and fair hearing.

Specifically, the Commission has amended the rules to: (1) codify the use of a process that relies on written testimony and documentary evidence in lieu of live testimony and cross-examination; (2) authorize Commission staff to act as a case manager to supervise development of the written hearing record when designated as presiding at a hearing; and (3) dispense with the preparation of an initial opinion whenever the record of a proceeding can be certified to the Commission for a final decision.

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