ARRL VEC Still Accepting and Filing License Applications, Monitoring FCC Shutdown
In the wake of the FCC shutdown, the ARRL VEC is continuing to accept, prepare, and file Amateur Radio license renewal and modification applications with the FCC as it is able. But the ARRL VEC has not yet filed any applications resulting from Amateur Radio Volunteer Examiner-administered examination sessions.
“We’re just as much in the dark about the FCC shutdown as anyone else,” says Perry Green, WY1O, the assistant ARRL VEC manager. Green says “a small number” of modification and renewal applications appear to have been accepted by the FCC October 1, but it took “far longer than usual” for that to happen. The FCC’s Amateur Radio database remains operational, however.
“We have not submitted any VE sessions, which require batch filing and are assigned an FCC filing number,” Green added. “We’re exploring this right now. Based on what we know, any applications filed may be accepted into the FCC queue, but we do not expect these to be granted until the FCC reopens.” The ARRL VEC is continuing to monitor the situation.
As the federal government shutdown continues after Congress was unable to reach agreement on a new budget or on a continuing resolution, the FCC is telling consumers that it is closed. This includes all functions at the Commission’s Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, facility, which handles all Amateur Radio licensing transactions. While the FCC does not appear to be processing any new, renewal or vanity call sign applications during the shutdown, it is still possible to reserve a 1 × 1 special event call sign, since that is not an FCC function.
A security staffer answering the telephone at the Gettysburg office confirmed that “pretty much everything” is shut down there. A recording on the consumer help line simply states, “The Federal Communications Commission is closed. We regret any inconvenience.” It refers anyone calling regarding an emergency “affecting the safety of life or the protection of property” to a Washington, DC, number, 202-418-1122.
Amateur Radio applicants who passed an upgrade examination may still operate with their new privileges, even if their applications have not been accepted for filing by the FCC. Applicants must have a Certificate of Completion of Examination (CSCE), issued by the VE team. When using their new privileges, such applicants should continue to identify by appending the appropriate designator to their current call signs, ie, /KT for Technician, /AG for General and /AE for Amateur Extra, as noted on the back of the CSCE.
Prior to the shutdown, Green says, the FCC did not specifically indicate to VECs how it intended to function, if at all, but he emphasizes that the ARRL VEC remains open for business. The ARRL VEC also is still processing International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP) applications.
In late September the FCC posted a “Plan for Orderly Shutdown” in the event of a federal government shutdown. “Generally, during a shutdown, all FCC activities other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property will cease,” the FCC plan begins. Only a handful of the FCC’s 1754 employees have been scheduled to remain on duty, including eight employees “retained to conduct interference detection, mitigation and disaster response operations.” Only one “senior management official” in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau — which oversees Amateur Radio — was scheduled to be on duty for the extent of the shutdown.
If the closing date for comments on a open proceeding falls during the shutdown, comments will be considered timely filed on the day after the Commission reopens for business. The Commission’s website emphasizes that the FCC “will not be open for normal operations during any government-wide shutdown.”