The Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stripped from the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau the final authority to settle enforcement actions involving significant monetary forfeitures.
Under Commission regulations, the Enforcement Bureau has delegated authority to negotiate settlements in connection with a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) or Forfeiture Order involving $100,000 or less, with actions involving larger amounts requiring a vote by the Commission itself. However, in recent years, the Bureau has adopted consent decrees in connection with NALs and Forfeiture Orders involving amounts significantly in excess of $100,000 and without the direct review and approval of the Commission.
In a statement issued on February 8th, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that, effective immediately, all settlements involving NALs and Forfeiture Orders issued by the Commission will be subject to a review by and a vote of the full Commission. According to Pai, the action is intended to more fully engage the Commission in enforcement actions and to foster an increased accountability for enforcement efforts.