On news that Diane Rinaldo, the acting head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration is stepping down, Free State Foundation was calling for strong leadership at the top.
"With the announcement that Diane Rinaldo is departing NTIA, it is important that she be replaced promptly by someone who will be a strong, effective leader of NTIA," said Free State president Randolph May. "One of NTIA’s most important functions today is overseeing the use of government spectrum at a time when there is rapidly increasing demand by private sector wireless providers for additional spectrum. This is especially true as the U.S. seeks to secure a leadership position in rolling out advanced 5G networks and new 'Internet of Things’ services. Now, more than ever, NTIA needs a leader who is knowledgeable regarding spectrum matters, and who also has the standing and ability to get the Administration to direct the various federal agencies not to hoard or hold onto spectrum that is underutilized."
Rinaldo announced her departure in an internal e-mail.
"As my time at NTIA comes to an end, I want to thank you for your dedication to our organization and its mission. My main goal in this position was to be a champion and bullhorn for all of the good work you do, and I will always be an NTIA supporter. The accomplishments we've made over the past two years are truly remarkable: The American Broadband Initiative, the Minority Broadband Initiative, federal spectrum regulator, SBOM, privacy, 5G, supply chain integrity, FirstNet, public safety and 911, the Internet work and all of the international conferences, tech trade policy, the digital of everything, and so much more.
"I would also like to thank the glue that holds us together: IT, budget and finance, HR, legal, legislative affairs, public affairs, training, travel, and facilities. None of us could accomplish as much as we have if we didn't have you keeping it all together for us.
"Keep up the amazing work! I will always be rooting for you!
NTIA declined comment on why she was leaving, who would be replacing her, or whether it would be in an acting capacity.
Rinaldo has been atop the agency since the abrupt departure of NTIA chief David Redl back in May. NTIA is the White House's chief telecom policy advisor and serves a role in overseeing government spectrum users similar to the FCC's role over commercial users.
There had been tension between the FCC and NTIA over the 24 GHz auction and its impact on government spectrum overseen by NTIA.
There has been tension again, or perhaps just the latest iteration of the same tension, this time over the FCC's desire to free up spectrum and NTIA's concern over its impact on GPS.
A Commerce spokesperson (NTIA is under Commerce) had no comment on why Rinaldo was leaving or who was replacing her, but Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross did issue the following statement:
“During her almost two year tenure at the Department of Commerce, Diane has led NTIA to multiple successes on 5G, supply chain security, broadband and public safety communications. I have been proud of her leadership and wish her the best in her future endeavors.”