U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today appointed three new FirstNet board members and the appointment of another board member to three-year terms, leaving the FirstNet board with one open seat and no clear state-government representative among its current membership.

“With all 50 states and several territories participating in FirstNet, these appointed board members will leverage their decades of experience in public service and the private sector to ensure FirstNet provides the world class communications network our emergency responders need,” Wilbur Ross said in a prepared statement. “I applaud them for their willingness to serve on the board to help save lives and keep communities safe.”

According to a U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) press release, the three new board members are:

  • Richard Ross, a police commissioner for the city of Philadelphia;
  • David Zolet, CEO of LMI, a Virginia-based government consulting firm; and
  • Robert Osterthaler, a retired Air Force Brigadier General who is currently a consultant and strategic advisor, “focusing primarily on communications networks and government programs,” according to the release.

In addition, Richard Stanek—sheriff of Hennepin County, Minn.—was reappointed to the FirstNet board, where he has served on the Consultation and Outreach Committee.

“I am pleased to welcome our newest board members, as well as Sheriff Richard Stanek, who is returning for another term,” FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet has come a long way, but there is still much work to do. With the addition of these individuals to the board, we are well positioned for the next phase of FirstNet and the implementation and operation of the nationwide public-safety broadband network.”

David Redl, the DoC’s assistant secretary for communications and information and administrator for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), echoed this sentiment.

“These individuals will serve our nation well by providing expertise from both the private-sector and public-safety community,” Redl said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank them for serving during this important time for FirstNet.”

Normally, the U.S. Department of Commerce makes its FirstNet board appointments in August. This year, the board appointments are being made in February—a delay caused in part by the fact that Redl was not confirmed until late last year. The three-year terms for today’s appointees are set to expire in January 2021, according to the FirstNet web site. Other board-member terms continue to expire in August, according to the FirstNet web site.

Last year, Barry Boniface stepped down from the FirstNet board. Other board members that saw their terms expire at the end of 2017 and will not return are:

  • Ed Reynolds, a commercial telecom veteran and one of the original members of the FirstNet board;
  • Chris Burbank, former police chief for the city of Salt Lake, Utah; and
  • James Douglas, former governor of Vermont.

With today’s appointments, the FirstNet board has 14 members. The 15th board seat will not be filled in the near term, according to a statement from an NTIA spokeswoman that was provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“Former Gov. Douglas served out his term on the FirstNet board, and we thank him for his service to FirstNet and our country,” according to the NTIA statement. “The views of state and local government are critical to the work of the FirstNet board, and we are working to identify candidates for consideration in the next round of appointments later this year.”

Beltway sources indicated that the U.S. Department of Commerce hopes to find a governor or former governor to fill the FirstNet board seat vacated by Douglas during the next round of appointments.