Sequester-related budget cuts could affect public safety, consumer protection, spectrum and universal service, an FCC spokesman said Thursday.
Unless the Congress takes action by midnight Friday night (March 1), the month will come in like a lion if that means taking a $85 billion bite from the budgets of government agencies across the board.
“The cuts to the FCC’s budget required by sequestration are very significant, particularly at a time when staff levels are lower than they have been in nearly 30 years," said the spokesman. "and will harm vital agency missions including public safety and homeland security, law enforcement, universal service, spectrum, and consumer protection. We have been developing plans to try to mitigate the impact of these cuts on consumers, the communications sector, and our staff.”
Total FCC budget is $341,923,845, sequestration would cut about $17 million and would need to be realized in seven months. Auction-related expenses are exempt from the sequester, however.
The FCC held an "all-hands" sequestration webinar--internal only-- Thursdayhosted by FCc Managing Director David Robbins to talk about the impact of across-the-board budget cuts on the agency, but that meeting was described as focused on the employees, rather than how the cuts might affect users of the process--media outlets seeking licenses or FCC approvals or decisions.
The bottom line appears to be that the agency is going to try to avoid furloughing any employees through a combination of cuts to travel and expenses (contractors). If there are furloughs, it will be a Friday off every other week, as is the plan in other parts of the government. The FCC may also be slow to hire as folks retire, rather than a moratorium on new hires.