The Background of the Agency
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates communication on television, cable, wire, radio and satellite in The District of Colombia, Unites States and its territories. The FCC was formed at the initiative of President Roosevelt. He wanted the congress to think about forming an agency for the regulation of the communication industry which would replace the two existing agencies of the time which were the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Federal Radio Commission (FRC). (Zarkin 2006) The FCC constituted of three divisions which later expanded to ten divisions. Six bureaus functioned for the development of regulatory programs. (Shahidulla, 2008)
It has been stated in the Communications Act of 1934 that the FCC was formed to ascertain the regulation of foreign and interstate communication making it accessible to everyone in U.S. It was also stated in the act that it was of paramount importance to have access to radio and wire services which were fast. This would help in the process of ensuring national defense and safety of the lives of the people. The Act was also aimed to confirm that the laws of the communication industry were to be carried out by only one agency, the FCC.
Ethics in the Federal Communication Commission
The standards of ethical conduct for the government employees in U.S. are set by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). Like the other employees of the government of the state, the people working at the FCC also fall in the domain where they need to abide by these ethical standards which are set. These standards are responsible for regulating many things which include gifts from outside sources, conflict of financial interest and performance of duty, exchanging of gifts among employees, engaging in unauthorized activities or maintaining honesty in service and so on.
The FCC aims at gaining the trust of the people and their understanding. Hence the agency also imposes additional regulations on its employees which cover the outside practice of one's profession and the FCC's specific financial disclosure requirements.
Thus, all the gifts which are accepted by the senior officials in the agency have to be listed and reported to the Congress in a report which is semi-annual. The public can also review the gifts accepted by requesting to know of them. The Lobbying Disclosure Act covers the officials of the agency. For the less senior employees, there is a confidential financial disclosure system which is present. This enables the FCC to review the internal conflict of interest.
The reports consist of the detailed information about the gifts which have been accepted, the interests, liabilities and outside positions of the employees. The spouse’s financial interest and the minor children also need to be disclosed for transparency and proper functioning of the agency.
FCC Ethics Analysis and Recommendations
There are strict codes which are set by the Office of Government Ethics for the FCC in U.S. It needs to be understood that the government employees play an omnipotent role in serving the common people across the nation. Hence it is of utmost importance to set formal enforcements in the domain of ethics in their field of work. Extreme measures are taken by the FCC and the OGE in this regard.
In the chapter, ‘Administrative Responsibility: The Key to Administrative Ethics’ by Terry Cooper, the author describes the paramount importance of responsibility which entails administration. Objective and subjective responsibilities come into play in agencies which deal with the people
Accountability and obligation are two domains of objective responsibility. The employees of the organization, superior ones as well as subordinates have responsibilities which they need to carry out. The employees who are higher in the power hierarchy are responsible for the subordinates’ work. The third form of responsibility is actually the obligation to serve the public interest. The work of the public administrators is gauged by their conduct in the terms of the interest of the masses.
The employees of the FCC are accountable to the people of the nation and are bound by the law to answer to specific queries by the people. They are obliged to work in the interest of the general masses of the nation and not get swayed by their own vested interests in any way.
However, subjective responsibility comes from the value system of employees of the agency. Such responsibility is not bound by organizational or legal regulations or expectations. Rather, it has its root in the nature of the person of the agency who is expected to carry out the work professionally.
It is a huge thing to fulfill the responsibility at workplace and the individual needs to balance among the conflicts on responsibilities being caught up in the multiplicity of roles. Thus, it is of utmost importance to manage the roles very well.
However, the culture of ethics in the workplace needs to be propagated so that the people employed can themselves comprehend their duty and work toward their professional success. The external controls and ethics work as the foundation toward making the employees reach their level of excellence in their performances at work. It is required to instill the employees with the sense of responsibility toward the society and the nation so that he can put in his best effort in fulfilling his work and thus cumulatively help in the working of the agency. (Gilman, 2005)
It is very vital for the employees at the lower levels of the organization to have external controls which regulate and encourage the ethical behavior. However, the creation of ethical organization culture needs internal controls. (Strickland, Vaughan, 2008)
The cultural ambiance needs to find its inception from the highest level of power hierarchy in the organization. The top managers need to believe in the ethics and values of the organization. Thus, in a chain reaction the middle managers would follow the top managers in order to show their loyalty. Thus, the ethics and responsibility would in turn be forwarded to the lower level employees of the organization. In this way, internal control and ambiance can be very useful in setting up a very ethical structure in an organization like FCC.
President Barrack Obama signed an ethics Executive order on the very first day of his office to establish ethical guidelines which are the strongest in the history of the nation for the Federal employees. Policy agendas can very well get shifted due to the change in leadership in the government of U.S. It needs to be comprehended that new political leaders can de-emphasize ethics programs or even be critical of them for being not effective. Such transformations at the governmental level can hinder the functioning of ethics programs. (Gilman, 2005)
Terry Cooper in “Public Administration in Modern and Postmodern Society: The Context of Administrative Ethics” tries to delve deep into understanding the administrative role in an organization. The participation of the governance is a very important factor in this regard.
He talks about the modern worldview where the personal identity and social relationships get complex in modern society where people play more than one role. In the postmodern view, the problem escalates as it is not possible to ascertain the priorities of roles.
In the postmodern society the separation between the roles of a person gets blurred and the ethical identities become less distinct. In the case of an agency like FCC, that is a major problem. The employees need to keep their personal sphere away from the domain of work which highly demands their professionalism.
In addition to the blurring of the different roles of the individual working in the agency, the postmodern society leads to the mesh of the political and administrative domains. As these roles get overlapped, the dual roles give rise to conflicting obligations.
Gary R. Orren’s work, “Beyond Self-Interest” goes on to discuss how the collectively held values are omnipotent in the determination of individual behavior. Such actions of the individuals also get governed by goals, ideas, values and purposes.
In the case of FCC, it is of utmost importance not to be driven by self-interest. Hence, there are so many ways of regulating the behavior of the employees of the agency. If an official is driven by his vested interests, then the entire ambition of the agency’s work would get jeopardized.
Commissions in Saudi Arabia Similar to the FCC
There are two commissions in the country of Saudi Arabia which combine together to perform the part of FCC in U.S. The Communications and Information Technology commission (CITC) is one such body which is engaged in carrying out its roles and responsibility in the domain of information and communications technology sector in Saudi Arabia. The commission provides for ensuring sufficient and affordable communication services in the state.
It is of great importance to provide in the organization an ambiance which encourages fair competition among the employees, safeguards the interest of the people of the state and the rights of the stakeholders. Thus, the frequencies have to be used efficiently and the telecommunications technology needs to be transferred properly and the developments have to be acknowledged. The CITC is entitled with the major responsibility of regulation of all these things in the country.
The clarity and transparency in the processes, achieving the principles of equality and non-discrimination to protect the public interest along with those of the investors and users are in the domain of CITC. The Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) regulates the television broadcasting of the nation along with the radio broadcast and the press and publication. The relation of the Kingdom with the foreign press is also regulated by the ministry.
The nation is a fully Islamic one and the legal system is based on Sharia which is derived from the Qu'ran and the Sunnah (the traditions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). Thus, the ethics and standards of the government agencies also are reflections of the religion in the nation of Saudi Arabia.
The conservative religious traditions of Islam govern the conventions of society and business. Thus, the religious fundamentalism shows its profound effect on the cultural practices of the nation. The rulers of the nation have promulgated regulations to apply them to administration of the state. For the very first time, these regulations were compiled by King Fahd in 1992 in a single document called the Basic Law (Nizam). This codifies the bureaucratic procedures and functions. (U.N., 2004)
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