Thursday, April 25, 2013

FirstNet Board Motion Alleges Improprieties

New FirstNet logo
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) tasked with building the first-ever nationwide Public Safety Broadband network is under scrutiny thanks to a surprise motion made by Board member Paul Fitzgerald, which attempts to remedy claims that the Board is lacking in transparency and Public Safety input, as well as allegations that consultants were not engaged in a "fair, transparent, and objective manner."

Fitzgerald's motion is not the first mention of dissatisfaction with the Board's activities, as evident in many spheres, including the Textron Roundtable from early this year, but it is certainly the boldest and most public. Language such as "cone of silence," "large void," "silos," "fumbling around in the dark," and "invisible" were being used as recently as January by first responders to describe the actions of FirstNet.

Fitzgerald's motion, found at the NTIA website, calls for oversight from a review committee, as well as a legal process committee, to address the oversight of compliance with Federal law.  Fitzgerald's fellow directors spoke in strong opposition of the motion across the board, including his fellow Public Safety representatives. The webcast of the meeting can be found on the NTIA's website. 

The motion was tabled for discussion, and Fitzgerald was the single "no" vote to table.

 "I ask all of you, as fellow FirstNet board members, where are the checks and balances?" Fitzgerald asked, in a follow up statement of support, which can be found at Urgent Communications.

One must wonder why Fitzgerald chose such a public venue to air out his concerns, and his fellow board members were not the only ones to chastise him for this move.   Reactions among the first responder community were mixed, with some dismissing Fitzgerald's concerns, and others thanking him for his bold commitment to Public Safety.

It is important to remember that the FirstNet Board has a monumental challenge ahead with building this ground-breaking network, and starting from scratch can be no easy task.  On the lighter side, FirstNet revealed its new logo, which will assist the organization in branding and identifying trucks, equipment, and marketing materials. See above.

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