FirstNet announces new staff, approves charters for committees
FirstNet this week announced the naming of board member Sue Swenson as vice chairman and the hiring of new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Frank Freeman, as well as the approval of charters for four new board committees.
During the past year, Swenson has played a key role in leading FirstNet’s negotiations on spectrum-lease agreements with Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant recipients wanting to deploy public-safety LTE systems. To date, four of those entities have signed deals with FirstNet, with the latest agreements being approved by the board during its meeting on Tuesday.
In her new role, Swenson will help lead FirstNet’s efforts in a couple of key areas during the next six months, according to FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn.
“We need to define our relationships with NTIA and other federal departments a lot better than they have
been defined in the past,” Ginn said during the meeting, which was webcast. “And secondly, the fundamental planning, overarching planning of the complex network needs oversight and work, and I have asked Sue to take on that responsibility.”
Freeman, who recently retired as a colonel after 25 years with the U.S. Air Force, has experience in leading large administrative organizations in many key areas, including facility management, human resources, logistics, environmental protection, security and emergency management, according to a FirstNet press release.
The hiring of Freeman means that FirstNet has filled five of the eight senior-leadership positions in the organization, according to FirstNet General Manager Bill D’Agostino.
Of the three remaining senior-level positions, a selection has been made for chief information officer (CIO), so an announcement could occur “very, very soon,” D’Agostino said. Applications for the chief technical officer (CTO) position have been received, and the FirstNet board could review the finalists early next month, he said.
Until the CTO position is filled, D’Agostino will be the acting CTO, assuming the role that board member Craig Farrill has held for the past year, earning thanks from the board. D’Agostino will be supported by new acting Deputy CTO Jeff Bratcher, who is on detail from the Institute of Telecommunications Sciences (ITS).
Filling the chief operating officer (COO) position will be done later, when operational expertise is needed, D’Agostino said.
In other action, the FirstNet board unanimously approved charters for four board committees: the technology and planning committee (chaired by Farrill); the governance and personnel committee (chaired by Ginn); the finance committee (chaired by Tim Bryan); and the outreach committee (chaired by Jeff Johnson).
Wellington Webb, chairman of the special review committee, announced that the committee’s work has concluded, now that the U.S. Department of Commerce inspector general will investigate allegations made by FirstNet board member Paul Fitzgerald that some board members engaged in improper ethics and procurement activities.