ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB015 (1996)

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ARLB015 VEC conflict-of-interest rules

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ARRL Bulletin 15  ARLB015
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  March 1, 1996
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB015
ARLB015 VEC conflict-of-interest rules

The FCC has formally eliminated conflict-of-interest provisions that
had applied to the administration of Amateur Radio exams. The action
conforms Part 97 of the rules to the provisions of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, recently signed into law by President
Clinton.

The Commission also eliminated a requirement that volunteer examiners
and volunteer examiner coordinators maintain records of out-of-pocket
expenses and annually certify those expenses to the FCC.

The FCC notes that VEs and VECs still may recover actual
out-of-pocket costs from examinees. The maximum reimbursement fee is
6 dollar(s).07 for 1996.

The former provisions essentially precluded equipment manufacturers
and their employees and anyone who prepares or distributes ham radio
license study materials from administering Amateur Radio license
examinations. The underlying purpose was to prevent an employee from
favoring examinees who had purchases manuals or equipment produced or
distributed by the VE or the VE s employer. The FCC has concluded
that other rules provisions, combined with current Amateur Radio
license examination procedures, will protect against potential
abuses.

The FCC notice announcing the rules changes pointed out that Section
97.523 requires VECs to cooperate in maintaining a single question
pool for each examination element. As a result, all exam materials
and manuals must draw from the standard question pool, which is
widely available to the public. Also, the FCC noted, each exam is
administered by three VEs and coordinated by a VEC. The Commission
said it would be highly unlikely for any examinee to be favored by a
VE or VEC.

The FCC said the 12 years of experience with the VEC system has shown
that breaches of trust by VECs and VEs can be dealt with swiftly and
immediately by disaccrediting the offending VEs or rescinding the VEC
agreement.

The rules changes became effective February 28, 1996.
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