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FirstNet: Dowd, Fitzgerald hope for reappointment to board

Fierce Wireless Tech
By Tammy Parker

August 24, 2014

Two law enforcement officials have confirmed they are hoping for reappointment to the board of the First Responder Network Authority, which is charged with planning, building and operating the LTE-based, 700 MHz nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

DowdChuck Dowd, now retired from the New York Police Department (NYPD), is seeking reappointment to the FirstNet board, as is Paul Fitzgerald, the sheriff of Story County, Iowa. Both confirmed their requests to remain on the board to IWCE's Urgent Communications.

Including the appointments of Dowd and Fitzgerald, a total of four of the 12 appointments of non-permanent members to the FirstNet Board are expiring this month. The Secretary of Commerce may reappoint individuals to serve on the FirstNet board provided they have not served two consecutive full three-year terms. Former board Chairman Sam Ginn, a long-time telecom executive, is not seeking reappointment to the board, so that vacancy must be filled. Retired telecom executive Ed Reynolds' board term is also expiring this year.

Dowd has received support for his reappointment from four organizations: Major Cities Chiefs, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Republican Governors Association and Democratic Governors Association. "I'm very flattered that they've stepped up and endorsed me so strongly," he told Urgent Communications.

FitzgeraldFitzgerald cast himself as the board's gadfly when, during an April 2013 board meeting, he alleged the FirstNet board's conduct was opening it to perceptions of conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency. Some of his allegations were investigated, and largely dismissed, by an internal committee appointed by then-Chairman Ginn. Ginn eventually asked the Department of Commerce's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to look into some of the more serious allegations concerning potential ethics violations. OIG never confirmed or denied that it had started an investigation, and the matter is no longer publicly discussed by FirstNet's board.

Ginn renounced the chairmanship in May 2014, at which time Sue Swenson was appointed to the top spot.

Meanwhile, FirstNet is continuing with outreach efforts to state and local agencies and elected officials. Amanda Hilliard, Firstnet's director of outreach, reported in a blog post that that the authority reached more than 165 public-safety stakeholders during the week of Aug. 17, 2014. She noted her team had made presentations at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Minneapolis, the Nevada Telecommunications Association meeting, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Conference and the Phoenix Fire Department.

"We also held our monthly regional calls with the states' Single Points of Contact (SPOC) as part of our ongoing efforts to update the SPOCs and provide them with opportunities to give us feedback and share progress and successes about their FirstNet activities, many of which are primarily focused on outreach now," Hilliard noted.

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