U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the appointment of five leading experts on public safety, wireless broadband communications, and state and local government to serve on the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Board.
FirstNet is an independent authority within Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) mandated by Congress to develop, build and operate the first nationwide wireless public safety broadband network. The network will enable better communication among local, state, regional, tribal and national emergency services personnel, improving response time and saving lives.
The FirstNet Board represents the interests of a wide range of stakeholders, including public safety; states, territories, tribes and localities; and urban and rural residents. The Commerce Department works with the Board to select new members who bring considerable public safety, network, technology, and/or finance expertise to the group. The following individuals were appointed to the board:
- Chris Burbank, Chief of Police, Salt Lake City Police Department
- James H. Douglas, former Governor of Vermont
- Annise Parker, Mayor, City of Houston, Texas
- Frank Plastina, technology executive, North Carolina
- Ed Reynolds, retired telecommunications executive (reappointed)
- Richard Stanek, Sheriff, Hennepin County, Minnesota
“I greatly appreciate the willingness of these individuals to serve our nation in the critical task of ensuring our first responders have the tools they need to perform their live-saving work,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Over the past two years, the FirstNet Board has made progress toward fulfilling the mission mandated by Congress to create the country’s first nationwide broadband network dedicated to helping firefighters, police and emergency responders to communicate more effectively and keep communities safe. The new members of the board bring great experience to help carry out FirstNet’s important mission.”
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, and Congress directed that FirstNet be governed by a 15-person Board of Directors, with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget named as permanent Board members. Congress charged the Secretary of Commerce with selecting the remaining 12 members.
“With these new appointments, I’m confident that the FirstNet Board has the right combination of public safety, wireless network, and state, local and federal government expertise to oversee FirstNet as it continues its work to get this historic network up and running,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “We are grateful that they’ve agreed to take on this challenge, and welcome the fresh thinking and energy that new Board members will bring to FirstNet.”
The terms of four FirstNet Board members expired on August 20: Sam Ginn (Chairman), Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, and Ed Reynolds. In addition, former Denver, Colo. Mayor Wellington Webb, whose term expires in August 2015, had earlier expressed his intent to step down from the Board once a replacement to fill his seat was appointed. Craig Farrill, a retired telecommunications executive, resigned from the Board last month.