FCC Shut Down Procedures Go Into Effect January 3, 2019

The Federal Communication has suspended most operations beginning mid-day on Thursday, January 3, 2019, as it announced it would, due to a lapse in federal funding.[1]

On January 2, 2019, the Commission released a Public Notice (DA 19-10) that extends pending deadlines for the duration of suspended operations, outlined what databases and other resources would remain active during the shutdown period, and that the FCC Operations Center would remain staffed at all times in case of an emergency affecting the safety or life or protection of property.

Specifically, the Commission is extending all normal filing deadlines under the Commission’s rules that fall during the suspension of operations period, including January 3, 2019, to the day after normal operations resume, with the exception of those filings relating to spectrum auction activities authorized by Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.[2]  In the Public Notice, the Commission provided an example that if the lapse in funding is resolved on a Monday, normal operations will resume on Tuesday, and all filings due during the suspended operations period would be due on Wednesday. Responsive pleadings and other required filings relating to spectrum auction activities, including the broadcast incentive auction, must be made on or before the previously announced deadlines.

Any Special Temporary Authorities (STAs) that will expire during the suspension of operations are extended until the day after normal Commission operations resume.

The Commission’s Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), the Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), the Licensing Management System (LMS), the Consolidated Database System (CDBS), the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the Universal Licensing System (ULS), the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS), the Auctions Public Reporting System (PRS), the Auction Application System, the Auction Bidding System, the Daily Digest, and the Commission Online Registration System (CORES) will all remain available during the suspended operations period, and will accept filings, however these filings will not be processed until the Commission returns to full-operational status. Filings related to spectrum auction activities authorized by section 309(j), including the broadcast incentive auction, and filings necessary for the protection of life and property are exempt and will be processed during the suspension period.  All other Commission databases will be unavailable.

The Commission’s Fee Filer System will not be available during the suspended operations period. To the extent that a payment of a regulatory or other fee can be paid through the Fee Filer System, those deadlines are extended to the day after normal operations resume.  Any payments that are eligible to be made to US Bank, including installment payments, civil monetary penalties, and other miscellaneous debts will continue to be processed by US Bank and no deadlines are extended. Importantly, any filings and payments due to funding administrators, such as the Universal Service Administrative Company, the North American Number Plan Administrator and the Telecommunications Relay Services Administrator must be completed in a timely manner and in accordance with all previously announced deadlines.

A copy of the Public Notice outlining the impact of the lapse in federal funding on the FCC’s Operations can be found here.

If you have questions, please contact either Katherine Barker Marshall at (202) 792-6422 or kmarshall@potomaclaw.com, or Doug Bonner at (202) 352-7500 or dbonner@potomaclaw.com.

[1] The Press Release can be found here.  The Commission also released a plan for shutdown on the same day, which can be found here.

[2] 47 U.S.C. § 309(j).