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ARRL Board Adopts Volunteer Monitoring Program; Official Observer Program to be

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Steve - K4HX

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« on: August 06, 2018, 12:14:54 PM »

From the ARRL Newletter:

ARRL Board Adopts Volunteer Monitoring Program; Official Observer Program to be Retired

The ARRL Board of Directors has adopted the recommendations of the Official Observer Program Study Committee, which would retire the venerable Official Observer (OO) Program and institute the Volunteer Monitoring (VM) Program. The Board took the action at its July 20 - 21 meeting in Windsor, Connecticut, instructing that the transition "be implemented as soon as practicable." Under the terms of the new program, current Official Observers will be invited to apply for appointment as Volunteer Monitors. The Board expressed its appreciation for the OOs and their dedicated volunteer service over the years.

ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR (left), who moderated the Board meeting, and ARRL CEO Barry Shelley, N1VXY. [Steve Ford, WB8IMY, photo]

The Board said the action is expected to re-energize enforcement efforts in the Amateur Radio bands and was undertaken at the request of the FCC in the wake of several FCC regional office closures and a reduction in field staff. Coordination of cases and evidence gathering would become the responsibility of ARRL Headquarters staff, while the FCC will retain the responsibility for final decisions regarding action in specific cases.

The study committee report spelled out the additional steps necessary to launch the Volunteer Monitoring Program. Among them would be the appointment of a dedicated Headquarters staff member or an independent contractor working under the direction of ARRL Headquarters to administer the new program and interface with its participants. The Volunteer Monitoring Program administrator would, among other duties, create a vetting and accreditation process for prospective Volunteer Monitors. The authority to accredit, appoint, and dismiss Volunteer Monitors would be assigned to ARRL Headquarters staff. Section Managers will continue to be a part of the vetting process for VMs, although they will not have appointment or dismissal authority.

ARRL Chief Financial Officer Diane Middleton, W2DLM (top), and General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, at the July ARRL Board Meeting. [Steve Ford, WB8IMY, photo]

Volunteer Monitor accreditation would be limited to a 3-year term, renewable by satisfying requirements necessary to ensure competency. A new Volunteer Monitoring Training Manual is in the final stages of development.

The administrator will create a target for the number of geographically distributed Volunteer Monitors. Preliminary plans would include up to five Volunteer Monitors per ARRL Section and up to 250 Volunteer Monitors overall.

The administrator would also "develop a rubric or other aid for program participants to highlight offenses and other criteria that the FCC considers a priority," the motion said. The administrator also would be charged with organizing periodic webinars, highlighting technologies, techniques, and other continuing education topics that would assist, motivate, and better enable Volunteer Monitors. The FCC will be actively involved in the development and presentation of these training opportunities.

The new Volunteer Monitor Program would continue to send notices recognizing good on-the-air operating practice. Under the new program, positive or negative operator notices eventually would be sent from ARRL Headquarters, not by individual Volunteer Monitors, in part to maintain their anonymity.

The action further authorized ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, to terminate the standing Amended Agreement between ARRL and the FCC Field Bureau regarding the use of amateur volunteers and execute a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ARRL and the FCC Enforcement Bureau. The MOU is under final review.

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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2018, 12:49:05 PM »

I'm tempted to apply for the new program: I've heard enough foul language on the bands in the past few years to make me ashamed of being a ham.

But, sad to say, there's very little that can be done about that. Riley Hollingsworth, the former FCC lawyer, has spoken repeatedly on this problem while answering questions on the http://W5KUB.COM podcasts I watch on Tuesday nights: this is, apparently, the price we pay for free speech. Still, there's a part of me that wishes I could find them all and wash their mouths out with soap: if they want to act like licentious children, they should, as far as I'm concerned, be treated like them.

This is it: I am now, officially, an old fogey.

Bill, W4EWH

Life has a curious way of evening out
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2018, 09:04:40 AM »

The FCC is essentially a paper tiger. It can levy fines, but seldom collects a dime. I watch Ham Nation, who has been showcasing all the young hams getting into the hobby. Letís hope they arenít listening to 7.200 and 14.313! I reached out to Tom Gallagher @ the ARRL while he was in charge Ė here was his response Ö..

"It appears our education system has failed once again. Such inappropriate activity  is protected by the 1st Amendment, something that our fathers and sons have fought and died for over the years. The FCC is fully aware of what occurs on 7.200 every day. They have set their enforcement parameters. They make the policy. On the other hand, Chairman Pai has made it abundantly clear that malicious, harmful interference will produce a bankrupting fine for those who indulge in it.

So we must live with that policy and align the good efforts of OOís to match it. Thereís no other choice in a world where almost anyone can say anything. It appalls me as Iím certain it does you, and decent people everywhere.

Thanks for writing, 73, and hope to hear often from you, Tom"

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