Sunday, May 12, 2013

FirstNet Appoints Internal Review Committee

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the entity responsible for building the nationwide Public Safety Broadband network, has been under a microscope since board member and Story County, IA Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald's allegations in a very public Motion and Statement at the April 23rd board meeting.

Fitzgerald claims that the transparency issues that have been discussed in the public safety community are internal to the board, as well as external.  He shocked viewers by claiming there is a 400 page planning document which is flawed due to certain conflicts of interest at play, and that the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC)  is being severely underutilized and denied information.  In response to the allegations, FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn appointed a review committee last week to investigate the claims.

Fitzgerald was not present for the special board meeting that took place earlier this week, but he provided a letter in his absence, and a vote by proxy in support of the creation of the review committee.

The committee is internal, and is chaired by former Denver mayor Wellington Webb.  Current acting User Advocacy Officer Jeff Johnson, NYPD Dep. Chief Charles Dowd, commercial board member Ed Reynolds, and three Federal representatives: Associate Attorney General Tony West, Office of Management and Budget's Dana Hyde, and Department of Homeland Security's Suzanne Spaulding. These Federal representatives are the designated stand-ins for their respective department heads, who are permanent FirstNet board members.

Many opinions have been circulating around the FirstNet issues, and recently critics have complained that this review committee is insufficient because of the possibility that committee members have participated in the alleged improprieties, and that they may lack the expertise required to judge whether or not their own board is compliant with proper Federal procurement and transparency processes.

We would love to hear what you think, please comment below.

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