In a January 5 Public Notice, the FCC requested comments on whether the current 14 Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VECs) are sufficient to facilitate the efforts of their accredited Volunteer Examiners (VEs) in administering amateur radio examinations, or whether up to five additional VECs should be authorized. The ARRL VEC is the largest of the 14 VECs in the US. Comments are due by February 5, and reply comments are due by February 19. After Congress authorized it to do so, the FCC adopted rules in 1983 to allow volunteers to prepare and administer amateur radio examinations, and it established the system of VECs and VEs.
“VECs introduced consistency into the volunteer examiner program by centralizing accreditation of volunteer examiners, coordinating the dates and times for scheduling examinations, and managing the various administrative tasks arising from examinations,” the FCC said. Authorized VECs may operate in any of the 13 VEC regions but must service at least one region. The FCC pointed out that some VECs now offer remote examinations.
“The Commission has long maintained 14 VECs and now seeks to consider whether they continue to serve the evolving needs of the amateur community, or whether there are unmet needs that warrant considering expanding the number of VECs.”
The FCC Public Notice provided questions for framing comments:
- Are the existing 14 VECs sufficient to coordinate the efforts of Volunteer Examiners in preparing and administering examinations for amateur radio operator licenses, or are additional VECs needed?
- What needs are currently being met, and which needs, if any, are not?
- If the FCC were to allow additional VECs, how many more would be needed to satisfy existing Amateur Radio Service license examination needs? (The FCC indicated that it will likely cap the number of additional VECs at five.)
- Given that VECs use a collaborative process to create examination question pools and volunteer examination administration protocols, would additional VECs enhance or hinder this process?
- How would increasing the number of VECs address the unmet needs, if any, of the amateur radio community, and what obstacles or complications could result from increasing the number of VECs?
Interested parties may file short comments on WT Docket No. 21-2 via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing Service (Express). Visit the FCC’s “How to Comment on FCC Proceedings” page for information on filing extended comments.