Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Former FCC Head Powell: Washington Is 'Broken'

BOULDER, Colo. -- Washington is "broken" right now, according to former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who says the current "brutal partisanship" dims the chance for political leadership in many arenas, including technology and telecom.

"Washington is more broken than any time I have seen in my adult life," said Powell, during an appearance Monday [Feb. 20] at the Silicon Flatirons telecom policy conference here at the University of Colorado. "I asked my father [former Secretary of State Colin Powell] and he said it's the worst he's seen in 40 years. It's broken, collapsed into brutal partisanship. When your major objective is to make sure the other team fails… that's not policy making, that's like rugby."

The poisoned atmosphere surrounding legislative interactions, Powell said, is especially damaging to telecom and technology policy-making, where nuance, technical knowledge and a delicate balancing act are required to bring off any significant regulatory reform.

"Tech policy is such a subtle thing to get right," said Powell, "and it [Washington] doesn't have a scalpel anymore."

Powell, whose tenure atop the FCC during the Bush administration's first term was a mixed bag of technical and social policy directions, said the FCC has become the "default wrestling pit that Congress punts to" when it can't solve communications issues through legislation.

  • 1