Commerce Names FirstNet Board


Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced Monday the 15-member board of FirstNet, the government's name for the interoperable broadband emergency communications network being funded by auctions of reclaimed broadcast spectrum.

The board comprises 12 members of the telecom, public safety, finance and technology sectors. The 12 will serve a mix of single-,two and three-year terms. There are also three permanent members from the administration -- the secretary of Homeland Security, the director of OMB and the attorney general. The board will oversee the creation of the network, which was one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It is chaired by former telecom executive Sam Ginn, now senior advisor at Greenhill LLC.

Other members are Tim Bryan, CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative; Charles Dowd, deputy chief of the New York City Police Department; F. Craig Farrill, cofounder, Kodiak Networks Inc.; Paul Fitzgerald, sheriff, Story County, Iowa; Jeffrey Johnson, retired fire chief; William Keever, former telecommunications executive; Kevin McGinnis, chief and CEO, North East Mobile Health Services; Ed Reynolds, retired telecommunications executive; Susan Swenson, telecommunications/technology executive; Teri Takai, former CIO for Michigan and California; Wellington Webb, founder, Webb Group International and former mayor of Denver.

The board was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 -- the broadcast spectrum auctions were attached to that bill. It required the board be made up of members "who have served as public safety professionals; have members who represent the collective interests of states, localities, tribes and territories; and reflect geographical and regional diversity, as well as rural and urban representation."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), who pushed for the spectrum auction legislation as a vehicle for what he saw as the long-overdue emergency net, applauded the announcement. "Today's appointments begin a new chapter in making sure our firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers, among other first responders, have the tools they need to get the job done and keep us safe," the senator said in a statement. "I commend the new FirstNet Board members for agreeing to serve."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who pushed for the network from the House side of the Capitol, was equally pleased.

"Today's announcement is an important step toward deploying a nationwide, interoperable communications network for our first responders," she said in a statement. "The individuals selected to serve on the FirstNet Board bring decades of experience as public safety officials, former telecommunications executives as well as local and state government officials. I congratulate them on their selection and am confident that they'll bring the leadership needed to oversee the build-out, deployment, and operation of this network in a timely and efficient manner."