Fearing that it might be growing dusty and staid, FERC earlierthis month kicked off a three-month, all-encompassing review of itsprocedures and processes “to try and keep current with the times,including a very changing energy marketplace that we regulate,”Chairman James Hoecker said.

“It’s not a process that’s oriented at looking at specificsubstantive areas,” such as natural gas-specific orelectric-specific issues. “Instead, we’re looking at things likehow we process rate filings, how we engage in auditing, enforcementand compliance activities, [and] how we issue licenses,” he toldNGI. These are the “meat and potato” areas of FERC.

The idea for the review was spawned at a retreat attended byFERC senior management last fall. “We got into some veryinteresting discussions about what the future role of regulationwas going to be, how we can keep FERC’s reputation for qualitywork, [and] how we can improve our efficiency. We concluded itwould be necessary, in order to answer all those questions, to takea hard look at what we’re doing now and how it’s working,” Hoeckernoted.

A task force of 25 volunteers from the Commission’s seniormanagement staff will perform the review until early May, at whichpoint recommendations will be made to Hoecker. The effort is beingheaded up by Christie L. McGue, FERC’s executive director and chieffinancial officer, with the aid of an outside consulting firm,Andersen Consulting. The task force is expected to contactcompanies FERC regulates to get their comments on its performance.

A FERC staff member dismissed the suggestion the review mightlead to further streamlining of personnel at the Commission. “Wehave been sort of scaling back our budget, and the number of peoplewe’re employed has gone down in the last few years, but I don’t seethis as an effort to continue that,” she said. “It’s just moretaking a look at where we are right now and whether we’re makingthe most efficient use of the people we do have.”

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