An April decision by the Federal Communications Commission to grant wireless service provider Ligado permission to operate in a spectrum band adjacent to spectrum that the Defense Department (DoD) says is critical for GPS services is not reviewable under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), said the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in an August 13 finding.

The CRA requires all Federal agency rules to be submitted to Congress and the Comptroller General before they take effect. In a nutshell, GAO found that the FCC decision qualifies as an “order” under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and not a “rule” under the APA. Because of that distinction, GAO said, the FCC’s order is exempt from CRA requirements.

The April FCC order has taken a lot of heat from several quarters in government, with DoD and the Department of Transportation saying that Ligado’s operations could interfere with GPS systems. Members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees have expressed similar concerns.  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is continuing to oppose implementation of the FCC order.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.