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Fact Sheet - Announcement of the FirstNet Board of Directors: Frequently Asked Questions

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Fact Sheet - Announcement of the FirstNet Board of Directors:
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why were twelve Board members appointed to the FirstNet Board of Directors?

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 established FirstNet, to be run by a 15-person Board of Directors. The Act names the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget as permanent members of the Board.  It directs the Secretary of Commerce to select the remaining 12 members, each of whom must have public safety, technical, network, and/or financial expertise, among other requirements.

On Monday, August, 20, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank appointed a Board that meets these statutory requirements and that, together, has the experience and skills to carry out this important mission.

2. What were the selection criteria?

Under the Act, each appointed Board member must have expertise in at least one of the following areas:  

  • Public safety– Knowledge and experience in Federal, State, local, and tribal public safety or emergency response
  • Technical– Technical expertise and fluency regarding broadband communications, including public safety communications 
  • Network– Expertise in building, deploying, and operating commercial telecommunications networks 
  • Financial– Expertise in financing and funding telecommunications networks

The Act also imposes these additional requirements on the FirstNet Board:  

  • No fewer than three Board members must represent the collective interests of States, localities, tribes, and territories;
  • No fewer than three Board members must have served as public safety professionals; and
  • The overall makeup of the Board should reflect geographical and regional diversity, as well as ensure rural and urban representation.

Each Board member must also meet certain general requirements. Specifically, each Board member must be a United States citizen, cannot be a registered lobbyist, and cannot be employed by, or receive payments from, a foreign government.

Given these different sets of requirements, selecting the Board was like solving a multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The Department of Commerce had many highly qualified candidates, not all of whom could be selected.

3. How were potential board members identified?

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) conducted extensive outreach to stakeholder groups to get input on the qualifications needed for the Board and to identify a large, strong pool of candidates. NTIA also published a Federal Register notice that invited people to submit nominations or expressions of interest.  

4. What was the vetting process?

NTIA conducted the outreach and due diligence for Board member candidates.  Based on the information it obtained, NTIA recommended a slate of candidates to the Acting Secretary that met the mix of expertise and representation required by the Act.  In selecting these members, Acting Secretary Blank appointed a Board that best advances the goals and objectives of FirstNet as well as meets the statutory requirements.

5. How long will the Board members serve? Are they limited to one term?

The statutory term for a FirstNet Board member is three years. The terms of inaugural FirstNet Board members, however, will be staggered, as required by the Act: four members will serve three years; four members will serve two years; and four members will serve one year. Board membership is limited to two consecutive full three-year terms.

6. How long will the Board be in existence?

Under the Act, FirstNet’s authority expires after 15 years. In February 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office must submit to Congress a report on what action Congress should take regarding FirstNet’s 15-year sunset.

7. What are the next steps for the Board?

The newly appointed FirstNet Board of Directors must determine its next steps, such as adopting operating procedures, holding its first meeting, announcing its advisory committee, and beginning its focus on what public safety users will need from the new network.

For more information on the role of FirstNet Board of Directors, please see the recruitment prospectus at http://ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/firstnet_prospectus_-_final.pdf.

To read the legislation that created FirstNet, please see Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ96/pdf/PLAW-112publ96.pdf