Former OMB official weighs in on LightSquared broadband controversy

The Federal Communications Commission recently fast-tracked approval for LightSquared to set up a national broadband network. But a federal panel found the Virginia company’s technology interferes with vital geographical positioning system signals. Both the Defense and Transportation Departments have asked FCC to rescind its decision.

“It’s always an interesting challenge when you have an independent regulatory agency making a rule that affects the operations of a federal agencies or the areas they’re responsible for,” said John Koskinen, a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and an expert on public management. He also recently stepped down as a non-executive chairman of the board of Freddie Mac.

“But ultimately, the regulatory agency is in charge,” Koskinen told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin on Monday. “They’re independent for an important reason, which is to keep them free from outside influence.”

Even though regulatory agencies make the final decision, Koskinen said, in most cases, the agencies strive to gather everyone’s views and don’t proceed without weighing those in the balance.


“Where agencies like the Defense Department or Commerce in its technical subdivisions have a serious concern, I’m sure the FCC or other regulatory agencies would listen carefully,” he said. “On the other hand, I think if you’re somebody with an application before a regulatory agency, you want to be comfortable that even with all of their political clout, that by itself won’t make the decision.”