Ed Parkinson named as FirstNet Authority CEO
Ed Parkinson today was named by the FirstNet Authority Board as executive director—operationally, the chief executive officer (CEO)—for the FirstNet Authority, becoming the organization’s third full-time staff leader and its first in more than 17 months.
FirstNet Authority Board Chair Ed Horowitz said that Parkinson was selected at the conclusion of a “comprehensive and thorough search” to lead the FirstNet Authority staff. Parkinson has been serving as the FirstNet Authority’s executive director for external affairs while splitting the FirstNet Authority’s CEO functions with Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jeff Bratcher since last May, which followed Parkinson’s seven-month stint as acting CEO.
“Ed’s leadership has been instrumental to the success of FirstNet, and he brings a passion and vision for the job that will ensure the organization continues to deliver for our nation’s first responders,” Horowitz said in a prepared statement about Parkinson. “Speaking on behalf of the FirstNet Authority Board, I congratulate him on the selection and thank Jeff Bratcher for serving in key leadership duties during the search. We look forward to continuing our work together to fully realize the promise of FirstNet for all of public safety.”
Sheriff Richard Stanek, vice chair of the FirstNet Authority Board, echoed this sentiment in expressing confidence about Parkinson’s ability to lead the organization.
“Ed has a deep understanding of FirstNet and public safety, as well as a commitment to driving innovation for our nation’s first responders,” Stanek said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to continue working with Ed to advance public safety’s network.”
In press releases issued today, Parkinson is listed as the FirstNet Authority’s executive director—the title used in the government job posting—but a FirstNet Authority spokesperson confirmed to IWCE’s Urgent Communications that the Parkinson will hold the CEO title for operational purposes.
“I am truly honored to be selected as the executive director of the FirstNet Authority,” Parkinson said in a prepared statement. “I am proud of the work that we do every day to help public safety and am excited about the opportunity to continue leading the FirstNet Authority as we evolve the network to meet their communications needs.”
Parkinson is very familiar with the FirstNet Authority’s mission and history. One of the FirstNet Authority’s first full-time employees hired in 2013, Parkinson previously served as a staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee, which was chaired by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). King sponsored the first bill—drafted by Parkinson—advocating that 700 MHz D Block spectrum be allocated to public safety, and the proposal eventually evolved into the legislation that established the FirstNet Authority.
Douglas Kinkoph, performing the delegated duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, congratulated the FirstNet Authority Board on its selection of Parkinson.
“Ed’s energy and enthusiasm for the FirstNet mission, and deep roots in the public safety community, make him the right person to oversee the successful deployment of a world-class dedicated public safety communications network,” Kinkoph said in a prepared statement.
Parkinson is the third full-time leader in the eight-year history of the FirstNet Authority, which Congress established in February 2012.
Bill D’Agostino led the FirstNet Authority—serving as the organization’s general manager—during its formative period for less than a year, from April 22, 2013, to April 14, 2014. The FirstNet Authority’s only other full-time staff leader was Mike Poth, who served as CEO from Aug. 17, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2018, leading the FirstNet Authority through the procurement process that selected AT&T as the nationwide contractor for the massive public-safety broadband project.
Since Poth’s resignation, the gap of more than 17 months without a full-time leader represents the longest such period for the FirstNet Authority, but it is not the first instance of the organization being in this situation for an extended period. After D’Agostino resigned in 2014, TJ Kennedy served as the FirstNet Authority’s acting leader—as acting general manager and as acting executive director—for 16 months before Poth was hired as CEO.
Parkinson is no stranger to the duties associated with being CEO of the FirstNet Authority, having been named as the organization’s acting CEO after Poth resigned and serving in the role from October 2018 to May 2019. Since then, Parkinson has split the CEO job with CTO Jeff Bratcher—Bratcher has been handling executive functions of the CEO post, while Parkinson has performed the non-executive CEO functions, according to the FirstNet Authority web site.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in January outlined some of the tasks that Parkinson needs to accomplish. The 43-page report calls for the FirstNet Authority CEO—at the time, a job that had not been filled for more than a year—to improve the organization’s oversight, transparency and communications with end users through the following actions:
- “Take steps to ensure that the integrated master schedule for the program is developed and maintained in accordance with the best practices provided in GAO’s Schedule Assessment Guide.
- “Identify additional information about the program, including FirstNet’s oversight and monitoring activities, that can be shared with public-safety stakeholders and periodically communicate and report this information to them.
- “Share relevant portions of the accepted state-specific commitment reports with the states, as specified in the contract.
- “In consultation with public-safety stakeholders and its contractor, as appropriate, identify and obtain periodic information or meaningful indicators on end-users’ satisfaction that would serve as a metric to gauge performance quality, including the effect of the FirstNet network and products on public-safety operations.”