Early in 1984 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to terminate their testing in the Amateur Radio Service and turn the function over to the amateurs themselves. Thus, the VEC Program was born. Appropriate Rules1 were written, permitting Volunteer-Examiners (VEs) to conduct the testing. To reduce their span of control, the Volunteer-Examiner Coordinator (VEC) function was established to act as intermediary between the VEs and the FCC. At the outset there were 21 VECs. Currently there are 14.
The Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group was formed as a nonprofit organization in May 1984, dedicated to the coordination of amateur radio license examinations at minimum cost to the examine. We signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the FCC at that time and coordinated our first examination on June 6, 1984 (55 examinees).
The VEC accredits amateurs as VEs, prepares and distributes examination materials, provides instruction and training materials, reviews results of examination sessions, maintains records and electronically files the results with the FCC. The FCC grants the privileges earned.
The VEs have the lion’s share of the task. They establish a test facility, proctor the examinations, maintain order, resolve disputes, collect fees, grade papers, issue Certificates, decide when accommodations are in order, verify identification documents and deal with the public. Without them the program would come to a shuddering halt! God bless them, every one.
For the first several years of operation we charged no fee. VE expenses were largely absorbed by the VEs, and VEC expenses were obtained through donations from radio clubs and individuals interested in promoting the program. In 1988 the FCC viewed funding from individuals to have the “appearance of impropriety” and asked us to shift the cost to the examinees. Our initial fee was $4.00. As of January 2013, we raised the fee to $5, to make it easier to make change at exam sessions.
Lastly, a word about fees. Each VEC charges a fee only sufficient to recover expenses. The two large VECs coordinate in every Region and overseas. Together, they do about 80% of all testing. As a result, they need full time employees to process the volume. With employees come the costs of benefits, workmen’s compensation, and myriad other Government-imposed expenses. The other 12 VECs are small, servicing a limited area. They are usually manned with unpaid volunteers. Their expenses are minuscule in comparison. Don’t be too quick to criticize fees. Compared with fees for other Government licenses, even the largest fee charged today is a bargain considering the value received.
GLAARG (VEC) IS NOT A RADIO CLUB. IT FUNCTIONS ONLY AS A VEC.
1 47 CFR, PART 97, SUBPART F, “Qualifying Examining Systems”