Amateur Auxiliary

FCC seal


Ed Parish, K1EP
Official Observer Coordinator


The Amateur Auxiliary is an ARRL program that is authorized by and works in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Auxiliary consists of official observer volunteer amateur radio operators who monitor amateur radio service frequencies. This is one way in which the FCC encourages amateur radio operators in the United States to self-police.

Please note:  The ARRL and the FCC are currently working together to update and to make changes to the Official Observer/Amateur Auxiliary program.  Because of these expected upcoming revisions and changes, ARRL has placed a moratorium on applications for new Official Observers and new Official Observer Coordinators at this time.


May 4, 2018: ARRL Issues Status Report of ARRL Official Observer Program Review

Official Observer

If the official observers (OO) hear something that, in their judgment, is in violation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, they will send a postcard to the amateur radio station describing the infraction. The receipt of an official observer card is merely advice from another amateur radio operator and has no legal authority to it. Official observers are trained to deal only with clear and unambiguous violations of FCC rules and not become interpreters in areas that are controversial.

To become an official observer, the amateur must first be appointed to the position by their section manager. ARRL field services will send the amateur a manual which describes the amateur auxiliary, how the official observer is supposed to conduct business, and several technical details concerning FCC rules and regulations. The potential official observer also receives a self-paced test that they must pass to receive the appointment. Once the test is forwarded back to ARRL field services (and passes), the amateur receives their official observer appointment. The OO performs his/her function by listening for such things as frequency instability, harmonics, hum, key clicks, broad signals, distorted audio, over deviation, out-of-band operation, etc.

In hard-core rules violations cases, OOs refer problems to higher echelons of the amateur auxiliary and may be requested to gather evidence for possible FCC enforcement actions.

Official Observer Coordinator

w1xm qsl card, depicting dept. of commerce citation
Vintage 1XM QSL card, depicting a friendly “warning” from the Department  of Commerce

The official observer coordinator (OOC) is an ARRL section-level leadership official, appointed by the Section Manager (SM), for two related purposes: to supervise the maintenance monitoring work of the section official observers, and to coordinate special amateur auxiliary efforts with headquarters and the SM.

With the inception of the amateur auxiliary to the FCC, the role of the OOC is greater today than ever before. A key liaison in the auxiliary, the OOC assists OOs in evidence gathering and conveys evidentiary materials to headquarters for handling with the FCC.


  • General class license or higher
  • Full ARRL membership & certification in the Amateur Auxiliary
  • Minimum of two (2) years experience as Official Observer
  • Active OO status while holding the OOC appointment

Local interference committees

Telephone pole with power linesARRL affiliated clubs are encouraged to organize local interference committees (LICs) to assist in identifying sources of interference to/from electrical devices as well as intentional interference.  LIC members are encouraged to qualify for Technical Specialist and Official Observer appointments. LICs coordinate with the section Technical Coordinator and/or Official Observer Coordinator.

[from Wikipedia]

See Also

Amateur Auxiliary Questions and Answers  ❖    FSD-23: Official Observer Record/Report


FCC Regulations: Personal Radio Services  ❖   Amateur Radio Service