April 15 --After nearly a year, the First Responder Network Authority
(FirstNet) Board's first general manager, Bill D'Agostino, has resigned due to
personal and family reasons, according to an April 14 announcement.
FirstNet Deputy General Manager TJ
Kennedy will temporarily replace D'Agostino until the board hires a permanent
replacement, the group said.
The news comes as the organization faces an
ongoing inquiry related to ethics concerns related to FirstNet procurement's
FirstNet, which operates under the Commerce Department's
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is currently
overseeing the building of a nationwide broadband network for public safety
officials, the last unfulfilled recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. FirstNet
was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Pub. L.
No. 112-96), which set aside 10 megahertz of spectrum and appropriated $7
billion to build a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for public safety
“I have been honored to lead
FirstNet's management efforts over the past year, and believe the organization
is now well positioned to enter the next stage of its development,” D'Agostino
said in a news release.
During his tenure, D'Agostino helped recruit and
hire staff members to help the FirstNet board deploy the nation's first
interoperable public safety network. D'Agostino was previously an executive
director for Verizon Wireless in Southern California and held executive
positions for Sprint PCS, Airtouch Communications, and Pacific Bell.
appreciate Bill's service as general manager over the past year--a critical time
in FirstNet's early planning stage,” said FirstNet Board Chairman Sam Ginn.
“Bill believed that public safety should be a partner in defining network
features and capabilities, and we will remember the example he set for us.”
The FirstNet board has launched its search for a new general manager and
plans to post the availability on USAjobs.gov.
D'Agostino's departure “signals problems and seems to
validate that FirstNet--if it happens at all--is not likely to happen anytime
soon,” said Jim Bell, a principle at the Interop Consortium, in an e-mail to
D'Agostino joined the FirstNet board last year as its
members faced conflict-of-interest allegations due, in part, to their
connections with the wireless industry. The FirstNet board is composed of
wireless and telecommunications industry executives, government officials, and
representatives from public safety organizations.
At an April 23 FirstNet
board meeting, board member Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald of Story County, Iowa, said
he was concerned that FirstNet was not engaging in open and transparent decision
making as is required by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.
Specifically, Fitzgerald said FirstNet's decisions were made without first
undertaking a “detailed and structured consultation process with states and
public safety agencies,” and were “driven largely or entirely by members having
a commercial wireless point of view and not by board members with a public
safety point of view.” Fitzgerald declined to comment for this story.
FirstNet special review committee concluded in a Sept. 20 report that the board's pre-meeting briefings and weekly
calls were “informational briefings that did not constitute decision making,
voting or otherwise narrow options in such a manner so as to preclude issues
that would appropriately be considered by the board in public session.” The
matter has since been referred to the Department of Commerce's Inspector General
for review which is “still on-going,” said Clark Reid, a spokesman for the
Department's Office of the Inspector General, in an e-mail statement to
To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in
Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible
for this story: Heather Rothman at email@example.com
For more information see the announcement here: http://firstnet.gov/news/firstnet-board-launch-nationwide-search-new-general-manager.
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