The Federal Communications Commission has received a $2.5 million federal grant for an investigation into whether it failed its legal obligations to protect the rights of FERC commissioners to review the agency’s regulatory decision-making.
The grant was announced Thursday by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and is intended to help ensure that FERC is following the law.
Pai also announced a $500,000 grant to the Office of Inspector General, to help expedite an investigation of the agency.
The OIG will work with FERC and other regulators to “ensure the agency takes full advantage of all available resources to ensure compliance with the law,” Pai said.
“This will help ensure we don’t end up with a situation where FERC doesn’t have the authority to do what it needs to do in a timely manner.”
Pai said that the investigation is expected to result in “significant and comprehensive” recommendations for FERC.
He said the commission would continue to work with Congress to pass a rule that would ensure that “the agency has the ability to do the right thing in all matters that impact the marketplace.”
“This grant will help us do just that, to ensure that the agency has all the authority it needs and all the tools it needs,” Pai told reporters at the FCC.
Pai said he would ask Congress for a $200 million annual funding increase for the OIG, to increase the number of investigators working on FERC investigations and to fund additional funding for the agency to conduct its investigations.
“FCC is the only agency in the country that has the authority, and we must have the tools, to enforce the law in all areas,” Pai added.
“As Commissioner, I’ll continue to lead FERC in the right direction, and I will make sure that we don�t end up in the same place as other agencies.
I have a long history of being a strong advocate for the rule of law and ensuring the agency is doing what is required to ensure its citizens have the freedom to make informed choices and protect their rights.”
Pai’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly (R-KY) said the agency had received the grant because “we have a clear mandate to ensure the safety and security of the American people.”
He added that the OIC would continue “to take aggressive enforcement action against anyone who violates the rules of the road.”
“FEC needs to be focused on protecting the public from fraud and abuse, not trying to change rules in the interest of protecting its own interests,” O’Mara said in a statement.
“It is imperative that the FCC make it a priority to do its job as the regulator of the nation’s broadband networks and other critical infrastructure.”
O’Reilly said that O’Neill had asked the OIA to conduct the investigation.
“We need an independent, independent investigation of whether the agency was doing its job or not, if it was doing the right things and if it could have done it better,” he said.
FCC Chairman Ajit Baade (R) told reporters after Pai’s announcement that the office would continue working with the agency “to make sure the agency continues to follow the law.”
Pai praised Baade for his “strong leadership” and said that his “focus is on ensuring that the law is enforced and the FCC remains committed to upholding the law and protecting our rights.”
The FCC said that Baade has also asked the Office for Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to investigate the agency for potential violations of the Open Internet Order.
The FCC also has an inspector general’s office that investigates violations of federal laws, rules, and regulations.