Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FirstNet Board and Chief Fitzgerald - accusations and banter

About a year ago I was at one of the many conferences that were teaming with the idea of FirstNet. The FirstNet Board had just been assigned and numerous rumors were starting to seave, but something struck me as strange. I had been writing about the need to use Public Private Partnerships, to help build the Nation’s Public Safety Broadband Network, which back then was still titled “the First Responder Network”, for at least a year when I had a conversation with someone at a conference. After evangelizing about the P3 model in my 30-second elevator speach, this individual told me that they, and a few others, were already working on a “business plan”, with certain members of the FirstNet Board, and they may want to use the P3 modeling as part of that plan. Fortunately, I never heard from the individual again.

Fast forward to about 10-12 months later when I start hearing about a “400-page business plan” for FirstNet, which struck me as odd, in that I had presented my P3 model to a few individuals at FirstNet, and the NTIA, and was always told it was too early to discuss what the business model should be. Then the accusations from a 40-year veteran of law enforcement stating improper behavior around business planning without all the boards consent, which coming from a 40-year Chief carries a lot of integrity if you ask me. But, as my feable mind started to comprehend, things started to come together.

The one thing that was evident in yesterday’s board meeting was that there was never a mention of the “400-page plan” not existing, in fact, it was stated that “the plan” did not cross any lines of legality. As Chief Fitzgerald stated, just because the review was done as a legal review, doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything going on. Regardless, sitting on a politically appointed board myself, I know of the frustration with learning how to operate in such an environment. In my mind, the intentions of a few board members got the better of themselves while trying to prove that they could build this network with relative ease, when in fact, the board is a political consensus driven tool to insuring the course is set. The board is not supposed to actually build anything, but, with any new board members, mistakes will be made, not that I made any myself, I’m just saying.

Getting back to that 400 page plan; just because we have some members of the board that got a little ahead of themselves, doesn’t negate the fact that the commercial carriers, and a few consultants, saw this as an opportunity and made a play for it. You don’t just create a 400-page business plan with just a few new board members; someone had to have put a team together. It was quite interesting to see how everyone clamored for the woods when the Chief made his claims though.

In the end, it’s a lesson that will not go unnoticed by our FirstNet Board, especially when it deals with the legality of rule making at the Federal level. If there is one thing we can count on is that there are plenty of lawyers in DC.

Just some guy and a blog….

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Words to Live By: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs)