The Government Shutdown that’s currently dominating the news has — despite what Fox News would have you believe — already impacted the economy and the lives of citizens in numerous ways. Websites are down. Children with cancer can’t get treatment. Spying on American citizens continue, but the Freedom of Information Act is on hold. Graduate students may be delayed in getting their degrees because important scientific research facilities have been defunded. But what about the electronics industry? You wouldn’t think the government shutdown would have much impact on private electronics corporations, would you?
In fact, it may. As Bloomberg reports, new electronics from Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Samsung, and others may be delayed because the FCC — which gives final certification to electronics sold in the US — isn’t operational during the shutdown:
Computers, mobile phones, gaming systems, TVs and wireless medical devices that emit radio waves need to pass a review by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC clears about 16,000 electronic devices annually, according to figures presented last month to U.S. lawmakers by Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner.
That output is now at zero, and it “could be something that’s a real drag on the digital economy the longer it goes on,” Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said in an interview.
The FCC furloughed 98 percent of its staff and closed most of its operations Oct. 1 as agencies shut down with Congress unable to agree on spending.
The story goes on to point out that when the agency resumes operation after the shutdown ends, further delays could be caused by the backup of devices awaiting certification.
The interesting thing, though, is that the effects of these delays — if they do occur — probably won’t be felt immediately. If you had your eyes set on a new gadget or electronic device coming out before Christmas, chances are good that it’s already been certified.
Products typically are planned a year in advance, and devices intended for sale during the fourth quarter that includes Christmas sales normally clear the FCC’s process by June or July, Bruce Franca, a former official in the agency’s Office of Engineering and Technology that vets electronics, said in an interview.
So by the time this shutdown affects our industry — assuming it does, and Sony’s Misato Suzuki seems to think that it won’t, which may say more about Sony’s upcoming release plans than it does the FCC’s approval process — our government will almost certainly have manufactured yet another catastrophic crisis to keep us on the edge of our seats.