Acting FCC Chair Clyburn: My Goal Is Not to Drop the Baton

Says Her focus is on 'Continuity and Progress'

In a note to staff on her first official workday as acting chair of the FCC, Mignon Clyburn said she saw herself as running the middle leg of a relay race, eventually handing off to the president's nominee, Tom Wheeler.

"My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton," she said.

She said she planned to model her tenure -- expected to be several months -- on her former colleague and also acting chair, Mike Copps. "He approached this job with seriousness, humility, and led this agency through the completion of the DTV transition -- a major accomplishment."

Clyburn said the two things that set the FCC apart were its people, which she called "world-class talent," and its mission to accelerate "the communications revolution that's transforming our economy, and the way we live."

She said her twin goals would be continuity and progress.

Clyburn will serve until Wheeler can be confirmed by the Senate to succeed chairman Julius Genachowski. That almost certainly won't happen until a Republican has been similarly named and vetted for the seat vacated by Robert McDowell. Both McDowell and Genachowski exited May 17. Some are predicting that could take until early fall.  Copps served about six months in the acting post.

The Senate Commerce Committee could hold a nomination hearing on Wheeler as early as the week after next -- the Senate is off next week for the Memorial Day break. But Wheeler is unlikely to get a full-senate vote until there is a Republican paired with him.