Copps Out to Restore FCC Morale, Public Image

Much as Barack Obama has been doing with George W. Bush policies, FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps is reversing his predecessor’s rules that obstructed transparency and communication internally and externally.

Former Chairman Kevin Martin came under fire for imposing inexplicably stringent requirements regarding communication among bureaus and employees and, in the process, demoralized staff throughout the agency.

Copps is out to undo those missteps. On Monday, he met with all FCC staff. He said FCC bureaus and offices are once again allowed to communicate internally and externally without going through the chairman’s office. That was one of Martin’s mandates – everything had to be approved by his office, a decree that backlogged workers’ projects and assignments, and helped create an atmosphere of rigidity and fear.

Copps also said he will hold weekly meetings with bureau and office chiefs; representatives from each commissioner’s office will attend those briefings as well. Martin has been accused of maintaining a veil of secrecy and keeping fellow commissioners in the dark as to his schedule, policy intentions and more.

Finally, Copps wants the FCC to issue more policy white papers for the public to access.

Copps is in charge of the embattled agency until President Barack Obama names a replacement. That person widely is expected to be Julius Genachowski, a Harvard Law classmate and friend of Obama’s. Neither Obama nor his team has confirmed those reports.

In the meantime, Copps has a lot of work ahead of him. Restoring morale among employees probably will be harder than tackling the messy DTV transition.

What refreshing ideas – FCC staffers should be treated with respect, be included in agency communications and not have to jump through ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles to be able to do their jobs.

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