ARRL VEC Team Attends National VEC Conference
Representatives of 12 of the nation’s 14 Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) -- either in person or via proxy -- met July 29 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the 26th Annual National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) Conference.
NCVEC Chairman Larry Pollock, NB5X presided over the gathering that offered an opportunity for representatives of the VECs to discuss issues facing the volunteer examination program and to meet face-to-face with FCC staff members. The ARRL’s delegation to the conference included ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, and Assistant VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O, as well as ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. Senior System Analyst in the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau -- Mobility Division Bill Cross, W3TN, along with Special Counsel in the Enforcement Bureau Laura Smith and FCC Program Analyst Donna Scott were also on hand and addressed the Conference.
NCVEC Question Pool Committee (QPC) Chairman Roland Anders, K3RA, led a discussion on the QPC’s plans for the upcoming year. “The QPC is working on the new Amateur Extra class pool and syllabus that is scheduled to be released December 2011,” Somma explained. “It will become effective July 1, 2012. No major changes are planned for the pool and the difficulty level will remain the same. Anders mentioned that the QPC does not expect any new pool releases in 2013.”
Cross moderated the FCC portion of the meeting and took the opportunity to introduce the FCC personnel attending the conference. He reviewed two items pending in Washington that may affect the exam question pools and mentioned two filings: A Petition for Rulemaking and a Request for Temporary Waiver (RM-11625) that the ARRL filed, seeking authorization of the use of single-time-slot Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) emissions in the amateur bands at and above 50 MHz (wherever multiple-time-slot TDMA is authorized), and a Petition for Rulemaking (WT-11-130) filed by the Anchorage VEC that seeks to give permanent credit to radio amateurs for examination elements they have successfully passed.
“Cross told Conference attendees that his office has received very few complaints about exam sessions,” Somma said. “He also said that his office receives questions from the Amateur Radio community on a regular basis about exam session rules. Examples include: Why can only higher class licensees administer Amateur Radio license exams? Can the number of required VEs at an exam session be lowered? Can non-amateurs administer exams? Cross explained that the rules governing the VE program are part of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended and are statutory requirements; only Congress, and not the FCC, can change a statute.”
Smith brought Conference attendees up to date regarding current enforcement proceedings. “She mentioned that the Commission receives a lot of complaints pertaining to new technology, harmful interference and disputes of a personal nature,” Somma said. “To her, Amateur Radio is about experimenting with new technology. FCC engineers will go out and make determinations about the interference. Nearly all of the personal disputes are not legitimate grievances.”
Somma said that Smith told them that she has not received any valid complaints about VEs, VECs or exam sessions, and praised the VECs for their efforts.
“Donna Scott announced she is retiring from FCC effective December 31 of this year,” Somma noted. “She leaves with 35 years of service with the FCC. Her expert knowledge and support of the VEC program will be missed.”
The NCVEC re-elected by acclamation the current representatives to new terms. Larry Pollock, NB5X, of W5YI-VEC, was selected for a third term as chairman; Michele Cimbala, WK3X, of LARC VEC will continue as secretary and Custodian of Records. Gene Wright, WA6ZRT, of the GEARS VEC, will continue as Assistant to the Custodian of Records and Fred Maia, W5YI, of W5YI-VEC, as Rules Reporter.
The five current Question Pool Committee members -- Perry Green, WY1O (ARRL VEC), Jim Wiley, KL7CC (Anchorage VEC), Larry Pollock, NB5X (W5YI-VEC), Mike Maston, N6OPH (Sandarc-VEC) and Chairman Roland Anders, K3RA (LARC VEC), were reappointed to the QPC.
Mark Erbaugh, N8ME, of the LARC VEC was elected NCVEC Vice Chairman, replacing John Johnston, W3BE, also from the LARC VEC. Ray Adams, W4CPA, of the WCARS VEC resigned as Treasurer, with 27 years of service to the NCVEC. Willard Sitton, W4HZD, also from the WCARS VEC, will move up to the position of Treasurer. Adams will support Sitton as the Assistant to the Treasurer.
RC “Smitty” Smith, W6RZA, announced his retirement as the head of the GLAARG VEC, effective March 2012; Smith has been with the NCVEC program since its inception. He received a standing ovation from all in attendance for his 27 years as a VEC representative. Adrienne Sherwood, WA6YEO, will replace Smith in this leadership role.
The 2012 meeting of the NCVEC has been tentatively scheduled for July 20, with the location yet to be determined.