NTIA seeks potential new FirstNet Authority board members
At least three new members are expected to be appointed to the FirstNet Authority board this year, when President Joe Biden’s administration theoretically could overhaul the governance body that oversees the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) being built by contractor AT&T.
Three Biden-administration representatives already fill three seats on the 15-member FirstNet Authority board, which automatically includes representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget. Of the other 12 slots on the FirstNet Authority board, 11 are expiring this year, with Karima Holmes—a former 911 director in Washington, D.C., who recently became a director at ShotSpotter—being the lone board member whose current term extends to 2022.
With this in mind, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)—the parent agency for the FirstNet Authority—today published a notice in the Federal Register seeking “expressions of interest” from people seeking to be part of the FirstNet Authority board.
Expressions of interest must be received by April 5 to be considered for appointment this year.
FirstNet Authority board members are selected by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who was confirmed by the Senate earlier this week.
“At the direction of the Secretary, NTIA will conduct outreach to the public-safety community, state and local organizations, and industry to solicit nominations for candidates to the Board who satisfy the statutory requirements for membership,” according to the Federal Register notice.
“In addition, the Secretary, through NTIA, will accept expressions of interest from any individual, or from any organization proposing a candidate who satisfies the statutory requirements for membership on the FirstNet Authority Board.”
At least three seats on the FirstNet Authority board would have to be filled with new members, because there is one vacant slot, and board veterans Ed Horowitz and Neil Cox are not eligible to be reappointed after serving two consecutive three-year terms.
All of the other eight FirstNet board members are eligible for reappointment this year, including Tip Osterthaler, who was named FirstNet Authority board chair less than seven months ago. Technically, the FirstNet Authority board terms of Osterthaler, CentralSquare CEO David Zolet and Matt Slinkard—executive assistant chief of police for the city of Houston police department—expired in January, but all are allowed to continue to serve until a replacement is named or until the end of the year, if they are not reappointed.
FirstNet Authority board Vice Chair Richard Carrizzo—the fire chief for the Southern Platte (Mo.) Fire Protection District who was named vice chair just six months ago—is one of five FirstNet Authority board members whose term expires in August or September but is eligible for reappointment. According to the Federal Register notice, the other four are:
- Brian Crawford, SVP and Chief Administrative Officer for Willis-Knighton Health System/former Fire Chief and municipal government executive (term expires August 2021);
- Billy Hewes, Mayor of Gulfport, Miss. (term expires August 2021);
- Paul Patrick, Division Director, Family Health and Preparedness, Utah Department of Health (term expires August 2021); and
- Brigadier General Welton Chase, Retired, U.S. Army, Army Information Technology/CEO, Chase Cyber Consulting (term expires September 2021).
Many within the public-safety community have been curious whether President Joe Biden will take any special interest in FirstNet, which was established in 2012 through language pushed by Biden—then serving as vice president—and key lawmakers within the massive omnibus bill enacted that year.