NCVEC Holds 2012 Annual Meeting
Larry Pollock, NB5X, Chairman of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC), presided over the NCVEC’s 27th annual meeting, held via teleconference on July 20. The meeting offered an opportunity for representatives of the VECs to discuss issues facing the volunteer examination program and interact with FCC staff members.
Representatives from 13 of the nation’s 14 VECs took part in the teleconference: Anchorage Amateur Radio Club VEC (AARCVEC), ARRL VEC, Golden Empire Amateur Radio Society VEC (GEARS), Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC (GLAARG), Jefferson Amateur Radio Club VEC (JARC), Laurel Amateur Radio Club VEC (LARC), Milwaukee Radio Amateurs’ Club VEC (MRAC), MO-KAN VEC, San Diego Amateur Radio Council VEC (SANDARC), Sunnyvale VEC, Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society VEC (WCARS), W4VEC VEC and W5YI VEC delegates were in attendance. Central America VEC (CAVEC) did not attend. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, and ARRL VEC Assistant Manager Perry Green, WY1O, represented the ARRL VEC.
FCC Mobility Division (MD) Deputy Chief Scot Stone, along with Mobility Division Senior System Analyst Bill Cross, W3TN, took part in the conference from Washington, DC; the Mobility Division is a part of the Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB). Enforcement Bureau (EB) Special Counsel Laura Smith and Program Analyst Rebecca Williams took part from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The FCC Speaks
Smith was the first to address the meeting. She declared that she has seen an increase this year in the number of complaints filed, as well as an increase in Amateur Radio enforcement needs. The FCC has hundreds of grievances that they are working on concerning harmful interference and disputes of a personal nature. Smith said that FCC has a lot of cases and complaints about on-air bad language and behavior in all its Services, and noted an ongoing matter pertaining to complaints regarding interference on 14.313 MHz.
Smith continued by saying she’s had two major types of VEC issues coming in this year: allegations of cheating, and club license trustee disputes. When VECs discover allegations of VE teams or candidates cheating, or a transfer of club trusteeship that is illegally or duplicitous, the VECs are to collect information and send it on to FCC immediately. The Commission will sort through exam documents, application filings and club documents to make a determination of the outcome. She stated that the VECs need to continue to be diligent about upholding the integrity of the Volunteer Examiner program.
Cross addressed the Conference next. He spoke of two items under review in Washington with the Commissioners that may affect the exam question pools. 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 advised the Conference that his office had also received a lot of complaints this year, specifically related to club trustee disputes. He mentioned that some hams are sending in applications requesting to change the trustee of a club station, but these hams are not authorized to change either the trustee or the station address. He called on Club Station Call Sign Administrators (CSCSA) to watch this carefully and try to head off any potential problems.
Cross also informed the Conference about numerous complaints he has received regarding VEs testing their relatives. Most complaints are not warranted, because the VE -- although present at the session -- was not one of the three administering or certifying VEs.
Rebecca Williams concluded the discussion with FCC staff. She announced on the heels of FCC Program Analyst Donna Scott’s retirement from FCC in December 2011, ULS Associate Division Chief Sandy Eckenrode retired in March, and FCC Program Analyst Nancy Gilbert retired in May. They have been knowledgeable resources and extremely supportive of the VEC program. All will be missed.
The floor was opened to questions for the FCC. These questions primarily involved administrative and procedural matters. Stone had no official report, but was listening in and addressing questions.
Question Pool Committee
Roland Anders, chairman of the NCVEC Question Pool Committee (QPC), led a discussion on what the QPC’s plans are for the upcoming year. He reminded the Conference that there will be no question pool releases in 2013. The question pools review is part of a regular process. Each question pool is reviewed and updated on a four year rotation.
The next pool up for review is the Technician class, which will become effective on July 1, 2014. Anders stated that the goal of the QPC is not to make major changes, but to fix and remove outdated or poorly worded questions and to create questions when new technology is introduced. The committee welcomes public input for any of the pools. He remarked that the most difficult part of writing the questions and answers is creating the distractors (incorrect answers). Writing the questions and correct answers is fairly easy, but the tricky part is coming up with three believable distracters that are reasonable, but are absolutely incorrect.
The NCVEC re-elected by acclamation the current representatives to new terms. Larry Pollock, NB5X, of W5YI-VEC, was selected for a fourth term as chairman; Mark Erbaugh, N8ME, of the LARC VEC was elected to a second term as NCVEC Vice Chairman. Willard Sitton, W4HZD, from the WCARS VEC, will remain in the position of Treasurer. Ray Adams, W4CPA, also from the WCARS VEC, will continue to support Sitton as the Assistant to the Treasurer. 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. The Rules Reporter position remains open.
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.
Looking to 2013
The 2013 annual meeting’s date and location will be determined later this year.