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FCC Closed! Licensing Functions on Hold

10/01/2013

In the aftermath of the congressional failure to reach agreement on a new budget or on a continuing resolution to keep the federal government in business, 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, including new, renewal and vanity call sign grants.

A security staffer answered 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.

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.”



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