Exam Session Paperwork Pipeline Filling Up at ARRL VEC
Paperwork from ARRL VEC-sponsored Amateur Radio examination sessions continues to enter a lengthening queue, but the VEC cannot file any applications until the partial US government shutdown ends and the FCC is ready to accept them. With the partial Federal Government shutdown entering its third week, all FCC websites, including the Universal Licensing System (ULS), remain offline until further notice.
“We have approximately 250 sessions and over 1,200 forms in the queue,” ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said this week. “We are still registering future exam session dates and receiving completed exam sessions in the mail.” Somma explained that exam session results arrive in hard copy form. ARRL VEC staffers check them and then key the information into a database, where the applications sit, awaiting transmittal to the FCC.
“When the time comes to release all the data files to the FCC, our data entry staffer will have a mighty sore finger from having to hit the ‘submit’ button a thousand times,” she quipped. Somma said she finds it astounding that some applicants who call her office still expect that the ARRL VEC somehow can file their applications with the FCC, even during the shutdown. “I wish we had that kind of power!” she said.
Beyond that, Somma says, “day-to-day operations at the ARRL VEC office are running smoothly despite this unusual event.” Somma said most ARRL VEC exam sessions take place as scheduled, but a few sessions that were supposed to be held at government facilities such Army National Guard buildings, had to be cancelled or moved to different locations.
ARRL Assistant Manager Perry Green, WY1O, wonders whether the FCC will be able to handle the flood of backed-up applications once it starts accepting them again, and if problems will arise monitoring the inevitable glitches that occur in the process.
The ARRL VEC continues to conduct business as usual, within the constraints of the FCC shutdown (tel 860-594-0300). No VECs are able to file any applications with the FCC, nor can they research anything on an FCC online database. The FCC CORES registration system to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) is unavailable during the shutdown. While the Commission’s electronic filing systems remain unavailable, electronic filing requirements cannot be bypassed through manual filing, with or without a request for waiver of filing requirements.
Even after the FCC reopens, the ARRL does not expect the Commission to immediately start granting any Amateur Radio-related applications, since it will take some time to ramp up operations in the wake of the shutdown. If the FCC is unable to restore electronic filing systems on the day the government reopens, it may issue a Public Notice further extending filing deadlines.
Volunteer Examination sessions may proceed as scheduled, at the discretion of the VEC and session sponsors. Examination applicants should be made aware that application processing will be delayed.