Wherever a spectrum regulator is positioned, questions will arise – as with any activity – as to whether the organisation should perform functions in-house, or outsource them to others. In practice, almost all regulators outsource some activities. We are thus talking about choosing a point on a continuum, not making a single choice over whether to outsource. The decision criterion in each case should be efficiency: what arrangement yields the best outcome in terms of cost, quality and the independence of decision-taking?
In ascending order of significance, outsourcing may involve:
- i) Hiring consultants with specialised skills to perform discrete tasks, such as planning a particular band (see Practice Notes for an example of a tender for such a contract);
- ii) Using outside resources for certain support functions such as software development and operation or maintenance of computer systems;
- iii) Using outside resources to cope with short workload peaks;
- iv) Assigning a function, such as monitoring emissions in a particular region or interference investigations, to an outside organisation, which reports the results directly to the regulator;
- v) Assigning a client-facing function, such as enforcement of licence conditions to an outside body;
- vi) Assigning certain administrative responsibilities such as issuance of radio operator certificates to an outside body;
- vii) Assigning responsibility for a range of frequencies to a band manager, which will make assignments to individual users;
- viii) Delegating broader policy responsibilities.