47 CFR Appendix A to Part 1, A Plan of Cooperative Procedure in Matters and Cases Under the Provisions of Section 410 of the Communications Act of 1934
(Approved by the Federal Communications Commission October 25, 1938, and approved by the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners on November 17, 1938.)
Section 410 of the Communications Act of 1934 authorizes cooperation between the Federal Communications Commission, hereinafter called the Federal Commission, and the State commissions of the several States, in the administration of said Act. Subsection (a) authorizes the reference of any matter arising in the administration of said Act to a board to be composed of a member or members from each of the States in which the wire, or radio communication affected by or involved in the proceeding takes place, or is proposed. Subsection (b) authorizes conferences by the Federal Commission with State commissions regarding the relationship between rate structures, accounts, charges, practices, classifications, and regulations of carriers subject to the jurisdiction of such State commissions and of said Federal Commission and joint hearings with State commissions in connection with any matter with respect to which the Federal Commission is authorized to act.
Obviously, it is impossible to determine in advance what matters should be the subject of a conference, what matters should be referred to a board, and what matters should be heard at a joint hearing of State commissions and the Federal Commission. It is understood, therefore, that the Federal Commission or any State commission will freely suggest cooperation with respect to any proceedings or matter affecting any carrier subject to the jurisdiction of said Federal Commission and of a State commission, and concerning which it is believed that cooperation will be in the public interest.
To enable this to be done, whenever a proceeding shall be instituted before any commission, Federal or State, in which another commission is believed to be interested, notice should be promptly given each such interested commission by the commission before which the proceeding has been instituted. Inasmuch, however, as failure to give notice as contemplated by the provisions of this plan will sometimes occur purely through inadvertence, any such failure should not operate to deter any commission from suggesting that any such proceeding be made the subject matter of cooperative action, if cooperation therein is deemed desirable.
It is understood that each commission whether or not represented in the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners, must determine its own course of action with respect to any proceeding in the light of the law under which, at any given time, it is called upon to act, and must be guided by its own views of public policy; and that no action taken by such Association can in any respect prejudice such freedom of action. The approval by the Association of this plan of cooperative procedure, which was jointly prepared by the Association's standing Committee on Cooperation between Federal and State commissions and said Federal Commission, is accordingly recommendatory only; but such plan is designed to be, and it is believed that it will be, a helpful step in the promotion of cooperative relations between the State commissions and said Federal Commission.
Whenever there shall be instituted before the Federal Commission any proceeding involving the rates of any telephone or telegraph carrier, the State commissions of the States affected thereby will be notified immediately thereof by the Federal Commission, and each notice given a State commission will advise such commission that, if it deems the proceeding one which should be considered under the cooperative provisions of the Act, it should either directly or through the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners, notify the Federal Commission as to the nature of its interest in said matter and request a conference, the creation of a joint board, or a joint hearing as may be desired, indicating its preference and the reasons therefor. Upon receipt of such request the Federal Commission will consider the same and may confer with the commission making the request and with other interested commission, or with representatives of the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners, in such manner as may be most suitable; and if cooperation shall appear to be practicable and desirable, shall so advise each interested State commission, directly, when such cooperation will be by joint conference or by reference to a joint board appointed under said sec. 410 (a), and, as hereinafter provided, when such cooperation will be by a joint hearing under said sec. 410(b).
Each State commission should in like manner notify the Federal Commission of any proceeding instituted before it involving the toll telephone rates or the telegraph rates of any carrier subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Commission.
The Federal Commission, in accordance with the indicated procedure, will confer with any State commission regarding any matter relating to the regulation of public utilities subject to the jurisdiction of either commission. The commission desiring a conference upon any such matter should notify the other without delay, and thereupon the Federal Commission will promptly arrange for a conference in which all interested State commissions will be invited to be present.
Whenever the Federal Commission, either upon its own motion or upon the suggestion of a State commission, or at the request of any interested party, shall determine that it is desirable to refer a matter arising in the administration of the Communications Act of 1934 to a board to be composed of a member or members from the State or States affected or to be affected by such matter, the procedure shall be as follows:
The Federal Commission will send a request to each interested State commission to nominate a specified number of members to serve on such board.
The representation of each State concerned shall be equal, unless one or more of the States affected chooses to waive such right of equal representation. When the member or members of any board have been nominated and appointed, in accordance with the provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, the Federal Commission will make an order referring the particular matter to such board, and such order shall fix the time and place of hearing, define the force and effect the action of the board shall have, and the manner in which its proceedings shall be conducted. The rules of practice and procedure, as from time to time adopted or prescribed by the Federal Commission, shall govern such board, as far as applicable.
Whenever the Federal Commission, either upon its own motion or upon suggestions made by or on behalf of any interested State commission or commissions, shall determine that a joint hearing under said sec. 410(b) is desirable in connection with any matter pending before said Federal Commission, the procedure shall be as follows:
(a) The Federal Commission will notify the general solicitor of the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners that said Association, or, if not more than eight States are within the territory affected by the proceeding, the State commissions interested, are invited to name Cooperating Commissioners to sit with the Federal Commission for the hearing and consideration of said proceeding.
(b) Upon receipt of any notice from said Federal Commission inviting cooperation, if not more than eight States are involved, the general solicitor shall at once advise the State commissions of said States, they being represented in the membership of the association, of the receipt of such notice, and shall request each such commission to give advice to him in writing, before a date to be indicated by him in his communication requesting such advice (1) whether such commission will cooperate in said proceeding, (2) if it will, by what commissioner it will be represented therein.
(c) Upon the basis of replies received, the general solicitor shall advise the Federal Commission what States, if any, are desirous of making the proceeding cooperative and by what commissioners they will be represented, and he shall give like advice to each State commission interested therein.
(d) If more than eight States are interested in the proceeding, because within territory for which rates will be under consideration therein, the general solicitor shall advise the president of the association that the association is invited to name a cooperating committee of State commissioners representing the States interested in said proceeding.
The president of the association shall thereupon advise the general solicitor in writing (1) whether the invitation is accepted on behalf of the association, and (2) the names of commissioners selected to sit as a cooperating committee. The president of the association shall have the authority to accept or to decline said invitation for the association, and to determine the number of commissioners who shall be named on the cooperating committee, provided that his action shall be concurred in by the chairman of the association's executive committee. In the event of any failure of the president of the association and chairman of its executive committee to agree, the second vice president of the association (or the chairman of its committee on cooperation between State and Federal commissions, if there shall be no second vice president) shall be consulted, and the majority opinion of the three shall prevail. Consultations and expressions of opinion may be by mail or telegraph.
(e) If any proceeding, involving more than eight States, is pending before the Federal Commission, in which cooperation has not been invited by that Commission, which the association's president and the first and second vice presidents, or any two of them, consider should be made a cooperating proceeding, they may instruct the general solicitor to suggest to the Federal Commission that the proceeding be made a cooperative proceeding; and any State commission considering that said proceeding should be made cooperative may request the president of the association or the chairman of its executive committee to make such suggestion after consideration with the executive officers above named. If said Federal Commission shall assent to the suggestion, made as aforesaid, the president of the association shall have the same authority to proceed, and shall proceed in the appointment of a cooperating committee, as is provided in other cases involving more than eight States, wherein the Federal Commission has invited cooperation, and the invitation has been accepted.
(f) Whenever any case is pending before the Federal Commission involving eight States or less, which a commission of any of said States considers should be made cooperative, such commission, either directly or through the general solicitor of the association, may suggest to the Federal Commission that the proceeding be made cooperative. If said Federal Commission accedes to such suggestion, it will notify the general solicitor of the association to that effect and thereupon the general solicitor shall proceed as is provided in such case when the invitation has been made by the Federal Commission without State commission suggestion.
In the appointment of any cooperating committee, the president of the association shall make appointments only from commissions of the States interested in the particular proceeding in which the committee is to serve. He shall exercise his best judgment to select cooperating commissioners who are especially qualified to serve upon cooperating committees by reason of their ability and fitness; and in no case shall he appoint a commissioner upon a cooperating committee until he shall have been advised by such commissioner that it will be practicable for him to attend the hearings in the proceeding in which the committee is to serve, including the arguments therein, and the cooperative conferences, which may be held following the submission of the proceeding, to an extent that will reasonably enable him to be informed upon the issues in the proceeding and to form a reasonable judgment in the matters to be determined.
(a) No State commissioner shall sit in a cooperative proceeding under this plan except a commissioner who has been selected by his commission to represent it in a proceeding involving eight States or less, or has been selected by the president of the association to sit in a case involving more than eight States, in the manner hereinbefore provided.
(b) A commissioner who has been selected, as hereinbefore provided, to serve as a member of a cooperating committee in any proceeding, shall without further appointment, and without regard to the duration of time involved, continue to serve in said proceeding until the final disposition thereof, including hearings and conferences after any order or reopening, provided that he shall continue to be a State commissioner.
(c) No member of a cooperating committee shall have any right or authority to designate another commissioner to serve in his place at any hearing or conference in any proceeding in which he has been appointed to serve.
(d) Should a vacancy occur upon any cooperating committee, in a proceeding involving more than eight States, by reason of the death of any cooperating commissioner, or of his ceasing to be a State commissioner, or of other inability to serve, it shall be the duty of the president of the association to fill the vacancy by appointment, if, after communication with the chairman of the cooperating committee, it be deemed necessary to fill such vacancy.
(e) In the event of any such vacancy occurring upon a cooperating committee involving not more than eight States, the vacancy shall be filled by the commission from which the vacancy occurs.
(a) Whenever a cooperating committee shall have concluded its work, or shall deem such course advisable, the committee shall consider whether it is necessary and desirable to make a report to the interested State commissions, and, if it shall determine to make a report, it shall cause the same to be distributed through the secretary of the association, or through the general solicitor to all interested commissions.
(b) If a report of the Federal Commission will accompany any order to be made in said proceeding, the Federal Commission will state therein the concurrence or nonconcurrence of said cooperating committee in the decision or order of said Federal Commission.
It is understood and provided that no State or States shall be deprived of the right of participation and cooperation as hereinbefore provided because of nonmembership in the association. With respect to any such State or States, all negotiations herein specified to be carried on between the Federal Commission and any officer of such association shall be conducted by the Federal Commission directly with the chairman of the commission of such State or States.