The Heritage Foundation is proud to announce that the FCC is the recipient of the First Annual Wanton Abuse of State-funded Technological Elucidation (WASTE) Award.
Yes, the name is clunky, but so is their website. If you don’t believe it, see for yourself. The website’s search function leaves much to be desired. Also, as Cynthia Brumfield of IP Democracy has noted, everything on the website is published as a separate file (Word documents, PDF, etc.) to be downloaded by the user.
The agency that is responsible for the nation-wide broadband strategy ought to be a model, rather than a blight on the digital highway. On Wednesday, Vice President Biden, Secretaries Vilsack and Locke, and newly-installed FCC Chairman Genachowski gathered to announce the “availability of $4 billion…to increase broadband access.” Given the amount of money being spent, shouldn’t the FCC bring itself into the 21st century?
For too long, businessmen and policy wonks alike have been frustrated, searching in vain for the information they seek. The solution seems clear: make a website that is easily accessible and functional for the user.
This issue is not new, nor has its mention been limited to individuals of any one political leaning. Heritage’s James Gattuso wrote about this problem almost two years ago. The Benton Foundation (located on the left side of the spectrum) has raised many of the same complaints. The technology blog Ars Technica said that fcc.gov “still looks like it was thrown together six weeks after Netscape went public over a decade ago.”
These individuals and groups are not alone in their complaints. During the recent Senate confirmation hearings for Chairman Genachowski several senators raised this very issue. Senator Klobuchar suggested updating the website more frequently. Senator Rockefeller cited a GAO report that criticized the lack of transparency on the website. The full hearing can be viewed here. Genachowski has indicated that fixing the FCC website is a priority for him.
During the confirmation hearing Senator Rockefeller laid down the gauntlet “fix [the FCC]…or we will fix it for you.” Hopefully, the folks at the FCC can fix their own website before the senator is forced to program it himself. We wish them well in this endeavor, and hope that the FCC website will soon no longer be a WASTE.