The FCC information technology staff is continuing to look into why the Universal Licensing System (ULS) Electronic Batch Filing (EBF) system has stopped processing at least some — and perhaps all — Amateur Radio exam session files and applications. The stoppage, which began on June 28, initially affected the handling of all Amateur Radio Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) and commercial license applications, said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, who alerted the FCC IT Department. Somma said that by June 30, it appeared that the FCC had corrected the broader problem, and processing of most Amateur Radio VEC and commercial applications and exam session files had resumed.
“The fix for the ARRL VEC remains elusive, however,” said Somma. “I assumed the issue would be cleared up quickly as the FCC has done in the past.” She added, that the FCC has been unwilling to reveal the extent of the problem, which she believes still could be affecting applications from outside the ARRL VEC.
According to Somma, resolving the problem has been escalated to Priority 1 at the FCC, and resources have been reprioritized to address the issue.
“I have been in contact with the FCC every day inquiring about their progress and will continue to do so until the problem is resolved,” Somma said. “I have also asked them to provide us with an alternate filing option as soon as possible.”
Somma said that as of July 6, the ARRL VEC had more than 900 applications and nearly 275 exam sessions in the queue and awaiting FCC processing.
“As soon as the FCC staff discovers and corrects the EBF system problem, we will immediately file the backlog, which would take only a day or so to release,” Somma estimated.
She said a lot of candidates and volunteer examiners have begun asking why new call signs or license upgrades have not yet been issued, and she is sympathetic with their concerns. “We usually transmit the exam sessions to FCC as soon as possible, which is 24 to 48 hours from the day they are received in our office,” she said. “Therefore, questions from the field about the delay are understandable.”