47 CFR § 1.94 - Consent order procedures.

§ 1.94 Consent order procedures.

(a) Negotiations leading to a consent order may be initiated by the operating Bureau or by a party whose possible violations are issues in the proceeding. Negotiations may be initiated at any time after designation of a proceeding for hearing. If negotiations are initiated the presiding officer shall be notified. Parties shall be prepared at the initial prehearing conference to state whether they are at that time willing to enter negotiations. See § 1.248(c)(7). If either party is unwilling to enter negotiations, the hearing proceeding shall proceed. If the parties agree to enter negotiations, they will be afforded an appropriate opportunity to negotiate before the hearing is commenced.

(b) Other parties to the proceeding are entitled, but are not required, to participate in the negotiations, and may join in any agreement which is reached.

(c) Every agreement shall contain the following:

(1) An admission of all jurisdictional facts;

(2) A waiver of the usual procedures for preparation and review of an initial decision;

(3) A waiver of the right of judicial review or otherwise to challenge or contest the validity of the consent order;

(4) A statement that the designation order may be used in construing the consent order;

(5) A statement that the agreement shall become a part of the record of the proceeding only if the consent order is signed by the presiding officer and the time for review has passed without rejection of the order by the Commission;

(6) A statement that the agreement is for purposes of settlement only and that its signing does not constitute an admission by any party of any violation of law, rules or policy (see 18 U.S.C. 6002); and

(7) A draft order for signature of the presiding officer resolving by consent, and for the future, all issues specified in the designation order.

(d) If agreement is reached, it shall be submitted to the presiding officer, who shall either sign the order, reject the agreement, or suggest to the parties that negotiations continue on such portion of the agreement as the presiding officer considers unsatisfactory or on matters not reached in the agreement. If the presiding officer signs the consent order, the record shall be closed. If the presiding officer rejects the agreement, the hearing proceeding shall continue. If the presiding officer suggests further negotiations and the parties agree to resume negotiating, the presiding officer may, in his or her discretion, decide whether to hold the hearing proceeding in abeyance pending the negotiations.

(e) Any party to the proceeding who has not joined in any agreement which is reached may appeal the consent order under § 1.302, and the Commission may review the agreement on its own motion under the provisions of that section. If the Commission rejects the consent order, the proceeding will be remanded for further proceedings. If the Commission does not reject the consent order, it shall be entered in the record as a final order and is subject to judicial review on the initiative only of parties to the proceeding who did not join in the agreement. The Commission may revise the agreement and consent order. In that event, private parties to the agreement may either accept the revision or withdraw from the agreement. If the party whose possible violations are issues in the proceeding withdraws from the agreement, the consent order will not be issued or made a part of the record, and the proceeding will be remanded for further proceedings.

(f) The provisions of this section shall not alter any existing procedure for informal settlement of any matter prior to designation for hearing (see, e.g., 47 U.S.C. 208) or for summary decision after designation for hearing.

(g) Consent orders, pleadings relating thereto, and Commission orders with respect thereto shall be served on parties to the proceeding. Public notice will be given of orders issued by the Commission or by the presiding officer. Negotiating papers constitute work product, are available to parties participating in negotiations, but are not routinely available for public inspection.

[41 FR 14871, Apr. 8, 1976, as amended at 85 FR 63173, Oct. 6, 2020]