ARRL and FCC Sign Memorandum to Implement New Volunteer Monitor Program

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ARRL Bulletin 14  ARLB014
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  April 17, 2019
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB014
ARLB014 ARRL and FCC Sign Memorandum to Implement New Volunteer
Monitor Program

ARRL and the FCC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
that paves the way to implement the new and enhanced Volunteer
Monitor program. The memorandum establishes the Volunteer Monitors
as a replacement for the Official Observers (OO) program. Current
OOs have been encouraged to participate in the new program.

“We are excited by the opportunity to codify our partnership with
the FCC and to work together to achieve our mutual interests of
protecting the integrity of our Amateur Radio bands,” said ARRL
President Rick Roderick, K5UR. “This Memorandum of Understanding
will serve as the foundation for a new level of partnership on this
very important issue.”

ARRL has contracted with retired FCC special counsel and former
Atlantic Division Vice Director Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, to
oversee the ARRL’s role in the development and implementation of the
Volunteer Monitor program.

Approved by the ARRL Board of Directors at its July 2018 meeting,
the new Volunteer Monitor program is a formal agreement between the
FCC and ARRL in which volunteers trained and vetted by the ARRL will
monitor the airwaves and collect evidence that can be used both to
correct misconduct or recognize exemplary on-air operation. Cases of
flagrant violations will be referred to the FCC by the ARRL for
action in accordance with FCC guidelines.

The intent of this program is to re-energize enforcement efforts in
the Amateur Radio bands. It was proposed by the FCC in the wake of
several FCC regional office closures and a reduction in field staff.

“Under this program, the FCC will give enforcement priority to cases
developed by the Volunteer Monitor program, without the delay of
ARRL having to refer cases through the FCC online complaint
process,” Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth has identified three phases to the program:
Development, Solicitation and Training, and Implementation.

* The Development phase will include drafting a mission statement,
clearly defining the ARRL’s and FCC’s requirements and needs as part
of the program, writing a job description for volunteer monitors,
and developing a training manual for volunteers.

* The Solicitation and Training phase will involve identifying the
geographic locations where volunteer monitors will be most needed,
soliciting applications and guidance from Section Managers in
reviewing applicants. (Those currently volunteering as Official
Observers are invited to apply for appointment as Volunteer
Monitors.)

* The Implementation phase will involve having the volunteers
provide field reports to ARRL, with staff offering guidance to
volunteers to ensure that the information collected meets
requirements for FCC enforcement action.

Hollingsworth has committed to FCC and ARRL officials to ensure the
adequacy of training for the new positions, to review the quality
and utility of Volunteer Monitor submissions to the FCC for
enforcement actions, and to advocate for rapid disposition of cases
appropriately submitted to the FCC.

ARRL officials estimate that within 6 to 9 months the first
Volunteer Monitors will be in place and ready to begin their duties.
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