FCC: “We Regret the Disruption.” Commission Shutdown Now Appears Complete
[UPDATED 10-03-2013 14:05 UTC] The FCC appears to have ground to a complete halt for all intents and purposes beyond emergencies, as the Federal Government shutdown continues. This includes functions at the Commission’s Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, facility, which handles all Amateur Radio licensing transactions, as well as the FCC’s main website and the Amateur Radio call sign database (ULS).
“We regret the disruption, but during the Federal Government-wide shutdown, the FCC is limited to performing duties that are immediately necessary for the safety of life or the protection of property.” a message on the FCC website says. “FCC online systems will not be available until further notice.” The Commission refers anyone calling regarding an emergency “affecting the safety of life or the protection of property” to a Washington, DC, number, 202-418-1122, or an e-mail address.
Assistant ARRL VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O, said earlier today that the FCC appeared to have accepted “a small number” of modification and renewal applications, apparently as the shutdown was in process, but it took “far longer than usual” for that to happen. The ARRL VEC did not attempt to file additional applications, and it will hold for filing any applications resulting from Amateur Radio Volunteer Examiner-administered examination sessions.
“We have not submitted any VE sessions, which require batch filing and are assigned an FCC filing number,” Green added. “At this point, we are unable to file any applications with the FCC, because it has shut down its servers. We do not expect the FCC to resume granting applications until it reopens.” Green stressed that the ARRL VEC remains open for business and continues to monitor the situation. The ARRL VEC also is still processing International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP) applications.
While the FCC has stopped processing new, renewal or vanity call sign applications for the duration, it is still possible to reserve a 1 × 1 special event call sign, since that is not an FCC function.
Green points out that ARRL VEC exam sessions will go on as scheduled, at the option of the sponsors, but the ARRL VEC will not be able to file session paperwork for processing until the shutdown ends and the FCC is back in business again.
Green notes that exam session candidates have to put an FCC Registration Number (FRN) on their applications, if they have one. FRNs for current licensees are available via the ARRL’s “Call Sign/Name Search” utility on the League’s home page. If the FRN is not available or has not yet been issued, applicants may use their Social Security numbers, which candidates must provide to obtain an FRN.
“So in this time of shutdown, they will need to submit their SSN on the VE session paperwork and gain their password at a later time,” Green explained. “If that is not to their liking, they will have to wait for the FCC to open up again, which I’m sure at some time it will.”
Radio amateurs whose licenses expire between October 1 and the day after normal FCC operations resume may continue to operate until then, even if they have not yet filed a renewal application. Pending an official FCC announcement that states otherwise, renewal applicants should apply no later than one day after the FCC reopens, if they want to continue to operate.
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.
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.
In late September the FCC posted a “Plan for Orderly Shutdown” in the event of a federal government shutdown. Only a handful of the FCC’s 1754 employees were 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. The Commission emphasized earlier that it would not be open for normal operations “during any government-wide shutdown.”