The worst mistake the FCC was forced to make was the release of the question pools--word for word. What should have been done was to release the general information--but not the exact questions and answers. Thank the mixed up and ludicrous laws and the 'freedom of information' act for that one.
Nope. FOIA had nothing to do with it.
What happened was this:
In the late 1970s, a fellow named Dick Bash published "study guides" that were very, very close to the actual exams. I am told that what he did was to ask hams who had recently taken the tests to recall the actual Q&A, and paid for their answers. Over time he built up a complete set.
It turned out that the FCC didn't have all that many different tests; the question pool was quite small. This was one of the reasons for the "30 day wait to retest" rule.
Some at FCC wanted to prosecute Bash. But the higher-ups said no.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president. One of his big campaign promises was to "get the government off your back" by "starving the beast" of Big Government. Funding for many agencies was cut or held to the same level despite rising costs. FCC was one of the affected agencies.
So FCC looked for ways to save money. One way was to create the VEC/QPC systems, which replaced paid Federal examiners and administrators with unpaid amateur volunteers. FCC exam offices and "traveling road show" examiners were assigned to other duties.
Of course this meant the exams had to be available to the VEs, which meant they couldn't be kept secret. So they increased the size of the pools and made them public domain - which put Mr. Bash out of business.
We also got the 10 year license term from those budget cuts.
73 de Jim, N2EY