02/12/2013 FirstNet Meeting Transcript

Topics/Subtopics: 
Date: 
February 12, 2013

 

FIRSTNET BOARD MEETING TRANSCRIPT 

February 12, 2013

[BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]

CHAIRMAN SAM GINN

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the FirstNet Board meeting. Mr. Secretary, I would like for you to reflect in the minutes that a quorum is present. Therefore we've met the requirements of the bylaws and we can conduct the business of FirstNet at this time. For those of you who are observing this meeting on television, we are in Boulder, Colorado. We are here because the National Institute of Standards and Technology is here. It is a fabulous research institution. They are doing quite a bit of research for FirstNet. As a matter of fact, yesterday the Board heard reports from the group here on standards -- and when I say standards --  one of the things that you want to make sure  about is when a new technology evolves, you want to ensure  that public safety requirements are embedded in the standards requirements. So, we had a report on that.

The scientists here are doing quite a bit of work on coverage and user devices. So the Board had a very productive day yesterday.  We would like to thank the researchers here at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  I would particularly like to thank  Dereck Orr, Jeff  Bratcher,  Emil Olbrich, and Andy  Thiessen. They all presented to us yesterday, and they all did an outstanding job. And we thank you, gentlemen.

I guess the second thing that we need to do is indicate to those of you who are on cable and in the audience here, that we do indeed plan a press conference after our formal meeting. We'll have about a 15 to 20 minute break. And beyond that, the entire Board will stand for your questions. Now this is our third meeting of the FirstNet Board. We've been in existence about 4 and a half months. I'm quite proud of the progress we've made on network architecture, on outreach efforts   -- matter of fact, you will hear a report today on our outreach efforts -- and the administrative requirements. When you are about to construct the largest telecom project in the history of the United States, you have to begin to develop management and administrative controls that allow you to meet your objectives. And those are going along nicely. And the Board had a read-out yesterday on the status of budgeting and budgeting controls and financial planning that will guide us for years to come.

Now today we're going to have a couple of presentations -- one on outreach, and the other on state and local government grant programs. That will come later in the meeting. In the meantime, we have a number of Resolutions that the Board needs to address and approve. But I'd like to start the meeting   by asking for the approval of the minutes of our last meeting. Those minutes have been distributed to you prior to this meeting. Are there any additions or corrections to those minutes?

MALE VOICE

Mr. Chairman, I move to approve the minutes as presented to the board.

CHAIRMAN

Is there a second?

MULTIPLE

Second.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you. Minutes approved. By the way, I heard the voice of Sue Swenson who is joining us by phone. Welcome, Sue.

SUE SWENSON

Thank you, Sam. Good morning, everybody.

MULTIPLE

Good morning, Sue.

CHAIRMAN

Let's move into the Resolutions of the Board. The first Resolution is on FirstNet's obligation to report to Congress. I'd like to ask Larry Strickling to give us some background on that report.

LARRY STRICKLING

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, the Middle-Class Tax Relief Act requires FirstNet to report to Congress on the anniversary of the act on all of its activities of the previous fiscal year. A draft report was prepared and has been circulated to all the members of the Board. They've all provided input as they saw fit. We have a final document to present to the full Board today for its approval and adoption, following which it will be submitted to Congress as required by the Act.

CHAIRMAN

That report has been distributed to you. Are there any questions about that report? If not, may I have a motion?

MALE VOICE

So move.

CHAIRMAN

Do I have a second?

MULTIPLE

Second.

CHAIRMAN

All in favor?

MULTIPLE

Aye.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you very much. The next resolution is a BTOP projects recommendation. Sue Swenson will give us the background on this effort.

SUE SWENSON

Thank you, Sam. Good morning, everyone. And this is going to be a little more expansive than Larry's comment previously, because I think it's important to provide background. I think everybody knows that back in 2010, NTIA  awarded grants to 7 public safety projects for the BTOP program, and these projects received waivers to use on a conditional basis 700-megahertz spectrum. You also know that in February, 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Act, which created FirstNet. FirstNet’s mandate  to manage a nationwide public safety broadband network, based on a single national network architecture  substantially altered the landscape for these 7 grantees. And they know that better than anybody.

As a result, in May of 2012, NTIA partially suspended the grants due to the uncertainty as to whether or not these recipients would be able to comply with the terms and conditions of their grants and maintain access to the spectrum, which was granted by the FCC. NTIA's goal in that suspension was to insure that the recipients proceeded in a manner that supported the development of the nationwide network and that any taxpayer dollars would be prudently expended.

At our initial meeting back in September, you may recall that we adopted a resolution to begin review of the recipients’ project. And as part of this assessment process -- I think you are all aware -- that pertinent Board members visited all 7 grant recipients between November- the end of November and the end of December. The purpose of those visits was to evaluate the progress towards these projects in consideration of the LTE network. In addition to the  Board members’ site visits, the group conducted numerous conversations with both the recipients, senders, public safety stakeholders -- had a lot of conversation among ourselves to   ensure that we understood the opportunities that existed with each of these projects.

I think it's important for everybody to know that each of the recipients has informed FirstNet of interest in lifting the suspension and moving forward with their projects. Before the working group proceeded to develop the recommendations that you're going to hear today, and in recognition that NTIA's Assistant Secretary is the ultimate decision-maker on whether to lift the suspension, the following steps were taken to address any potential conflict between FirstNet and NTIA -- FirstNet's network deployment efforts, and NTIA's obligation to ensure the prudent expenditure of dollars. So, Chairman Ginn weighed the possible conflicts, and we also established the appropriate separation between the staff assigned to FirstNet and all other NTIA staff.

Our preliminary determination that we're going to be discussing today depended in part on each recipient's assurance that, one, they would  have sufficient funding to continue   their project until the suspension is lifted. And two, that  the recipient will be able to fulfill all relevant milestones for the grant-supported portions of the project within the anticipated BTOP period of performance. These preliminary determinations are also conditioned on the need for FirstNet and each recipient to negotiate Memorandums of Understanding (MOAs)  . Such MOAs  would include appropriate conditions, certifications, project milestones, and other reporting elements stating that FirstNet could, one, execute a sector lease, and two, provide NTIA with a comprehensive recommendation on why the recipients' partial suspension should be lifted.

The FirstNet's working group has made a preliminary determination that FirstNet does have the resources and expertise that we need to engage in a partnership with each of the recipients who received lease agreements, and achieve resumption of the BTOP funding. And it's important to note that such FirstNet involvement with the recipients would include both technical and user advisory groups. We want to  ensure that the deployment of the networks and the applications remain consistent with the architectural framework of the nationwide network, and that the BTOP recipients have the necessary support of FirstNet to plan,  execute, and assess the results of their strategies. Throughout this process we've said that FirstNet will utilize the assistance of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) as appropriate, and additionally   will utilize  the expertise of  the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies that is relevant in the planning, execution, and assessment of the projects.

So, today, we have before us a Resolution drafted by the working group for consideration by the full Board, which would authorize the working group to enter into the MOA negotiation with each of the recipients that we agree should move forward. These negotiations would conclude no later than 90 days following the adoption of the resolution today, with brief extensions allowed, if mutually agreed to. The Resolution  adopted will serve as the Board's notice of intent to the recipients and NTIA on a process   to enter into subsequent sector lease agreements with the recipients, and for FirstNet's transmittal of its recommendations.   NTIA is supporting the lifting of the grant suspension. So, after completion of an MOA and completion of any relevant MOA milestones, it is important to understand that FirstNet and NTIA will do different things.   FirstNet will  execute a sector lease agreement with the recipient, and subsequently will  transmit recommendations on the recipients' BTOP suspension to NTIA. So, FirstNet negotiates the lease agreement; NTIA will determine, and is the ultimate decision maker on the lifting of the partial suspension.FirstNet will send a recommendation to NTIA; the grant recipients will individually and separately request the suspension to be lifted.

So, in light of all that's been done over the last several months, and before I conclude here, Mr. Chairman, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of the Board members who  have been so involved in this, and also all members of the NTIA staff and others who have ' been supportive in this effort. I'm pleased to say that the Board's working group has made the preliminary determination that each of the 7 BTOP recipients could provide substantial benefit to FirstNet's deployment of the nationwide network through incorporation of the recipient's project into the  network  with the sharing of very specific lessons learned from the recipient.  So, I have before you a Resolution for the Board's full consideration.

CHAIRMAN

Well, thank you very much, Sue. I want you to know that this Board really appreciates all you've done to bring us to this point. Mr. Secretary, would you read the enabling Resolution?

UZOMA ONYEIJE

“Now, therefore may it be resolved that the FirstNet board hereby directs its board member, Sue Swenson, to negotiate on behalf of FirstNet, spectrum lease agreements with BTOP public safety grant recipients, to use the 700-megahertz public safety broadband spectrum to further the development of the nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The negotiations with the BTOP public safety grant recipients shall last no longer than 90 days after the date of this resolution. However, such negotiations may be extended for a brief period of time upon mutual consent of FirstNet and a recipient. The full board shall approve the lease agreements.”

CHAIRMAN

Thank you. Any comments? Larry, do you have a comment? All right, is there any further discussion on this Resolution?  Move adoption. Is there a second?

MULTIPLE

Second.

CHAIRMAN

All in favor?

MULTIPLE

Aye.

CHAIRMAN

Resolution passed. Thank you very much, Sue.

SUE SWENSON

You're welcome.

LARRY STRICKLING

I wanted to add a comment, since these were projects that NTIA  had granted awards to back in 2010. And, generally I just want to say, at NTIA we're extremely pleased that the Board has been able to conduct this review in an expeditious manner. And we're especially pleased that today's Resolution will chart a path to allow the resumption of these projects that meets the two conditions that we set when we suspended these projects last year  These conditions were that we wanted to keep the grant money in the communities that received the grants, and we wanted to insure that the dollars would be spent on facilities and equipment that could be incorporated into FirstNet's nationwide network design, or that would yield important data and information to guide FirstNet in its activities. So, I'd like to add our own thanks to the Board for its review of these projects.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you, Larry. You've been a good partner. Okay, an additional Resolution here is on temporary hiring authority. Craig, would you introduce that resolution?

CRAIG FARRILL

Thank you, Sam. I'd be happy to. Yes, this is an administrative resolution to give the acting general manager the authority to hire term and permanent employees while we are in the process of developing our business plan. As many of you recall, at our last meeting we approved a comprehensive business plan package approach, and funding to go with that. This Resolution will give us the authority to bring on employees as we are in the process of building the organization up toward that approval. So, I'll read the enabling phrase here. I think this kind of summarizes it very well:  The FirstNet Board delegates the authority to the acting general manager and to the acting user advocacy officer  --  (that being Jeff Johnson) --  to hire no more than 10 FirstNet employees on a term basis or on a permanent basis before the next scheduled Board meeting (that would be April 23rd, by my reckoning). Such positions will be filled consistent with the laws and regulations that apply to us here at FirstNet, and may include details, that is, the assignment of an employee from another federal agency. Upon the approval of the business plan, or the selection of the permanent general manager, the general manager then will be able to hire under the business plan, and will continue to bring officer-level employees to the Board directly for approval. So, that is a quick summary of the Resolution, and we would move for approval.

CHAIRMAN

Craig, I think it needs to be stated that these additional hires are within the budget.

CRAIG FARRILL

Yes, sir. These additional hires are within the budget that we're operating on today. That's correct.

CHAIRMAN

Okay, any further discussion?

KEVIN MCGINNIS

Sam, just to echo that, since I made a point at our last meeting  that a couple of resolutions that we had  should be consistent with the budget.  We did have a very good explanation of the budgetary impact on this Resolution. And I'm satisfied that we're moving in the right direction on that score.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you, Kevin. Okay, I'm ready for an approval. A second?

MULTIPLE

Second.

CHAIRMAN

All in favor?

MULTIPLE

Aye.

CHAIRMAN

Motion passes. Okay, the final resolution involves sort of an inside issue for the Board to use unanimous written consent between our individual board meetings. Uzoma, would you take that one?

UZOMA ONYEIJE

Sure. This resolution is going  to help the Board  take actions between Board meetings. As the Resolution states, it's unanimous written consent. So the process would be that every Board member would have to say yea  on an item. Any nays would automatically make the item fail. So I'll read the Resolution at this time.

“Whereas Congress enacted the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which mandates the creation of a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network that will enable law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical service personnel, and other public safety officials to more effectively communicate and perform their missions. Whereas the Act creates the First Responder Network Authority, an independent authority within the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, charged to take all actions necessary to build, deploy, and operate the network in consultation with state, local, tribal, and territorial entities. Whereas section 6206 of the Act gives FirstNet the authority to exercise, through the actions of the Board, all powers granted by the act as such incidental powers as necessary. Whereas section 6206 of the act further directs the FirstNet Board to take such actions as it may determine necessary to accomplish the purposes stated in the act. Whereas section 4.11 of the FirstNet bylaws state that any action required, including amendment of these bylaws, which may be taken by the board of directors, or by a committee thereof, may be taken without a meeting if all the directors and all the members of the committee sign a consent in writing setting forth the actions so taken. Such actions shall have the same force and effect as a unanimous vote of the Board or the committee. Whereas a unanimous written consent process will help insure that certain administrative matters move swiftly rather than tabling such actions for the next Board meeting, or requiring that the chair call a special board meeting. Now therefore be resolved that the FirstNet Board will adopt a process by which the board will take actions by unanimous written consent. Be it further resolved that I, the undersigned secretary of the FirstNet authority, do hereby certify that the above is a true and correct copy of the Resolution adopted during this meeting of the board of directors of the FirstNet Board authority, February 12, 2013.”

CHAIRMAN

Thank you, Uzoma. Well, let me see if I can just simplify this. We need to make decisions between Board meetings. In order to do that we have to have 100% of this Board acceding to the fact that we can do that. So, I think it's a reasonable addition to our management tools. And so, thank you very much. Is there a motion to approve this resolution?

MALE VOICE

I'll move it, Sam.

CHAIRMAN

Second?

SUE SWENSON

Mr. Chairman, I have one question about that, or just a comment. I think it's important for those listening, that I  assume that we would only use this approach on a limited basis as we've used in prior experiences,  so that this would not become standard approval process. Would that be your view on that?

CHAIRMAN

I  agree.

SUE

Yeah, okay. Thank you.

TONY WEST

Mr. Chairman, just to follow on that. Is there a process -- I couldn't hear it in the description -- is there a process to insure that just as these Board meetings are public, these decisions will be made public, so that people have an opportunity to see what unanimous consent decisions are being made by the Board in between Board meetings?

UZOMA ONYEIJE

The final Resolution will be posted in the same manner as all other resolutions.

TONY WEST

Great. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN

Nice catch, Tony. That's good.

SUE SWENSON

I'd move approval, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN

Second?

MULTIPLE

Second.

CHAIRMAN

All in favor?

MULTIPLE

Aye.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you. Okay, that gets us through sort of the formal part of our Board meeting. We will now move to the presentations. And first up is stakeholder outreach, in which I know many of you who are viewing this broadcast have an avid interest. And Jeff Johnson will cover that subject.

JEFF JOHNSON
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Board. I know you have asked me to present today on what we have planned for outreach. And as the user advocacy officer for the Board, we've presented this 30,000-foot overview. And I just want to thank members of this Board and our colleagues for their contributions to this plan. It's fair to say this isn't the final iteration, and it isn't every piece of detail. But it does give you a glimpse of our priorities and our outreach initiatives.

So, let's start here first. Our goal is to create an informed relationship between FirstNet and the stakeholders. We do not view outreach as us telling and people listening. In fact quite the contrary is true. We expect that we'll be listening to our stakeholders and our users, and using that listening to pour that back into network design, user devices, and then attributes of how the network performs. So, it will only be after that that we begin to make some solid decisions and directions that we turn that information back out and use it in terms of an output. Our stakeholder outreach today includes states and territories, the public safety users -- and these really are in priority -- states and territories, public safety users, our own public safety advisory committee, the tribes, our federal users and agencies, Congress, the media, the BTOP recipients whom Sue Swenson has had charge of for the Board.

We're  working with Bill Keever and Peters Suh  on the applications development. We also need an active engagement with the vendor community and the technical community. I hope to provide a little detail   on this. Also, I think this graphic just kind of symbolizes the base of our outreach initiative.    These are the public safety responders that are touching the taxpayers of this country. And  the taxpayers are the eventual target of the products and services we intend to deploy. And then it reaches all the way up to the BTOP recipients.

Just to touch quickly on the actions we have planned. Our first and our top priority is the outreach to the governors of the 56 states and territories, and the staff of the governors. Now a lot of people will ask us why that's a priority. And quite simply, the law is clear on that. There is a statutory obligation to create a relationship and a dialogue with the governors of our states and territories. And they are our top priority today.  It does beg the eventual opt-out discussion that is going to happen, and is prescribed by the law.

The second priority is to engage the public safety users. And we intend to do this in conjunction with our discussions with the states, also engaging public safety users at the regional workshops and through their professional trade associations. Likewise, it requires (and you know, now I'm speaking to the public safety community)  you also have an obligation to engage  with FirstNet. We have, I believe, about 20 speakers planned at conferences, and this is a great opportunity to show up there and engage FirstNet Board members directly. And also,  our information is public. Please feel free to engage us directly or engage us through your trade association.

Next, we have obligation to fulfill our legislative requirements and to communicate with Congress. We have a report due. It will be filed very shortly. Subsequently it will be posted on our board. And  finally, we will communicate with our other stakeholder groups. And I think at the practical level, Board, we will be beginning our state visits  in the immediate weeks following this meeting, as well as participating in  6 regional meetings aimed at states and their 5 invitees from county, city, municipal government.  In these conferences, we're going to talk about, in detail, what our plans are today.

So, let's talk about  the vertical priorities   as part of this outreach effort. And I'm  going to stay very high-level. . This will be available on our website   for  anyone who  wants to read it. You can get the detail there. But our first vertical is governors, states, and territories. I talked briefly about the  6 regional meetings. We are really going to  hit the seminars, the events, any large gathering of our target groups.  . We are going to continue our work with NTIA as they roll out the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) grant money --  making sure that our outreach efforts are closely tied and coordinated with NTIA's efforts on the grants.

And then we  also have a legislative outreach component. Each state has its  own legislature, and its  own legislative requirements and restrictions on the governor. And I think if we can create a statutory context in which  they can see a path for a dialogue with us, it's going to  be helpful to them.

On outreach to  our public safety users: At a very high level, we are establishing a database of the key leaders of the associations, of the outreach tools, of the conferences, and we'll engage them through those tools. We intend to do that on a national basis and a regional basis. I know, for example, the Association of Western Fire Chiefs, which I'm active with, has  55,000 invited emails per day, every business day. And the Sheriffs has a tool like that, and the Police Chiefs have a tool like that. All we have to do is leverage our communications into that, and to create a portal for that information coming back, and we'll begin to be more effective in terms of reaching our target audiences.

And then lastly, we intend to continue our engagement with trade unions through our outreach. Many of our street-level first responders trust the unions that they belong to as their trusted source of information and feedback, and we intend to engage the unions .

 Public Safety Advisory Committee: As you know, we have 41 members that sit on the PSAC,   which is chaired by Harlin McEwen.  We have a 5-person executive committee that works with Harlin to manage the affairs of the PSAC. We intend to use the PSAC  to assist this Board of Directors in our outreach to the states and to the public safety community. And they have now begun to receive assignments that will contribute to this board's effectiveness.

One of the questions we face, I think, to be quite candid,  is   “Why  haven't we been hearing from you? How come you're not doing more outreach?” And I think the short answer to that is, we were careful not to communicate before we have something to communicate. And we have been spending our time getting this house in order, getting our priorities set, getting our planning done and our homework done. And I think we're now getting to a phase where we have something to talk about. So that's why this is such an important thing right now.

 In terms of the tribal community, we'll be working with our federal partners to find effective and efficient outreach mechanisms for the tribes. This is a key area for us. And while we do have objectives posted up there, I think you'll expect further refinement and detail as that vision solidifies.

The federal user agencies: Now the federal users will have access to this network. There are a number of agencies and entities within the federal government that have an interest in FirstNet and what our plans are, and how our plans  affect them. And we're going  to be in the process of identifying  those agencies.  And with  those agencies and stakeholders, how do we  create an organization so that we have two-way feedback occurring?  Who do we get to lead the group as a part of the PSAC?  Lots of questions to be answered as part of our list of objectives  for the coming couple months.

Regarding outreach to Congress, I want to thank NTIA for the loan of their staff. Sara Morris  has been spectacular in my view in terms of working with us. And as I said, our goals here are quite simple: to file the mandatory reports, to stay plugged in to the committees of jurisdiction, and as Congress and their staff have questions for  FirstNet, to be proactive and quick and accurate in our response to them.

In terms of media and branding, we have some basic blocking and tackling  to do, Board. We need a logo. We need business cards, we need letterhead, we need all sorts of details associated with this. And all of that begins at the branding phase. What is it that we want to look like, what kind of presence do we want, and how do we leverage that presence out into the community in an identifiable fashion so that FirstNet's brand is recognizable, and that people understand what our purpose and mission is?

In terms of the BTOP, you just watched the Board of Directors pass a Resolution dealing with the BTOP. And I think, in short, we're going to  execute that Resolution and continue our work with NTIA.

In terms of the application development, as I mentioned, Bill Keever ( Board member) and Peters Suh (consultant for FirstNet)  are quite a ways into that. It's really quite impressive. But I think the key part I want to pick out of this is,--  we're in an active process of soliciting applications that exist in the marketplace today. We want to try to scope what the operational processes are and security requirements associated with these things that ride on our network, understand the devices and technologies. And then lastly, we're planning a hack-a-thon in the second quarter of this year, trying to inspire innovation in the application community. In the vendor community, this is an area where I'm quite certain we can get this right.

There are a lot of folks in the vendor  community who  have a meaningful story to tell us. And there will be an appropriate time for us to hear that story within the context of our plan. And that's what this is really about. This is about recognizing that beginning in the second quarter, and then on into the late Spring, we have a robust plan for engaging the vendors, for having monthly webinars in which they have access to. We're going to  co-present or have a day at the PSCR that will be a vendor day. The FirstNet Board will be there, as well as our technical staff . And then we'll conduct quarterly vendor forms beginning in the second quarter. So, to the extent that there has been  frustration -- and we understand that -- we are now entering a phase where we can begin to open our ears and put that information into context.

The technical community is important to us. There is an academic technical community and there  are  independent technical authorities. And we're just recognizing in this slide that we need to have outreach to them.  Candidly, there's an international technical community that has interest in and has issues associated with where FirstNet is going. And we intend to involve them and engage them as well.

I want to  touch on this point very quickly. In terms of our user advocacy organization -- currently we are very thin. Hopefully we're starting to fill up our pipe with employees. But I am acting in both my role on the Board and as the staff user advocacy officer. We have one contractor on staff. NTIA is assisting us with the addition of two term employees. We also have loaned partial employees from NTIA. And then we have lots of Board members and other loaned folks helping us day to day. But we're about to move really quickly, I hope, to a different place. This is the overall org chart. I won't belabor it. And then this is the stakeholder and outreach group within the user advocacy function. We will be hopefully signing a contract with someone who  will be functioning in our marketing and communications role. Hopefully, we can do that in the next week or so. And then that will begin the systematic roll out of messages, which we hope  will prompt information flowing back our way as well.

Also, I want to just touch on where we've been. We have lots of speaking engagements. And I think it's fair to share with the community and with this Board  what our priorities have been. Based on the law, and based on our priorities and timelines, these are our priorities in terms of allocating speakers to invitations: states, territories, governors and tribes; the public safety community; federal users, vendors, and the technical community. That's where we're focusing, in that order. Because travel is expensive and because this Board's time is valuable and we have a lot of tasks at hand, we try to be judicious about where we go. So requests for Board representation   will rate higher for us if we have an opportunity to address large groups of people. We call that a keynote slot. But it's really about having an opportunity to talk to a large group that may be attending a conference.

We prefer an individual presentation so that people don't confuse our messaging. Sometimes as a part of a panel you're sitting there and other people are saying things, and people assume by association that you agree with that. We're pretty careful about putting ourselves  in that position, largely because this is a complicated project and there are  all sorts of diverse opinions and paths that we have to choose from, and our emphasis is on clarity of our speaking points, on clarity of purpose.

Also we're cautious not to have vendor conflicts. We don't want to put the vending community in a position where they could jeopardize their opportunity for work with FirstNet. Conversely, we don't want to jeopardize the Board of Directors, either.

And then  the last piece is, the FirstNet Board  will select a presenter. We appreciate and urge people to request speakers from the Board. But based on geography, speaking assignments, and  the unique talents  of the Board, we place the speakers. And then we prefer a not-for-profit conference host. Those are our priorities. There are exclusions outside of this that we will say yes to. But these have been our criteria for speaking engagements to date .

Lastly, I'm just going to  click through these. We  are already scheduled to speak at  20 additional conferences, which are on the books today, confirmed, before July 1st. And we've already completed a number of speaking engagements, which you'll see in the coming slides. And I will just click through these so that people have an opportunity to see where FirstNet will be and what we'll be talking about. In addition to this, the Board of Directors has indicated that they would like us to accelerate our conversation with the states. And we'll be adding visits in the second quarter -- the end of the first quarter and the second quarter -- 56 visits on a listening tour, to this list, in addition to the invitations that are coming in.

I'd like to thank the Board for your  patience. Thank you for allowing your user advocacy group to get our house in order before we went out there and worked. We've been careful not to confuse effort with outcome. And we are focused on outcome. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIRMAN

Wellington?

MAYOR WELLINGTON WEBB

Jeff, good report. As you know, yesterday we spent some time talking about the outreach plan. I think we went through it in detail. I think it also might be beneficial for you to cover how the outreach will  affect counties and mayors, since that was discussed yesterday, and since I'm sure many of them are listening.

JEFF JOHNSON

Thank you, Mayor Webb. I think it's easy to get focused on the requirements of the law, and the requirements of the law require a conversation between FirstNet and the governor in this opt-in, opt-out conversation. But we also know, Mayor, that at the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Mayor and EMS manager level, there will to be a retail opt-in opt-out decision made. And we understand that our products and our services and the performance of this network are going to  be preeminent in that, and that we have to have a conversation with the local elected officials and the local public safety responders if we're going to be effective at delivering these to the street level police and fire fighters.

MAYOR WEBB

I just wanted to make sure we got that on the record before I went into a mayor's meeting. [laughter]

CHUCK DOWD

Thank you, Mayor Webb, you made my job easier because this is a concern obviously for the major cities. One of the things we have been doing, Jeff, and we've discussed this , is we are keeping police, fire, EMS agencies, and cities abreast of the fact that our outreach  schedule to the states is coming. And we are urging them to make sure that they contact their single point of contact in the states to insure that their voice gets in to that state representation. I know Paul and I had that discussion recently with the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major Counties Sherriff's Association and National Sheriffs. So,  to your point, that outreach effort is important. And we're urging them to make sure that they stay involved at the state level.

CHAIRMAN

Any further comments?

BILL KEEVER

I'd just like to also say that Peters Suh, in his outreach/slash/market-research -- whatever is the right term -- has been principally focused on cities, police chiefs, fire departments, EMS organizations. So that's where he's really talking to people whose feet are on the ground and looking at what they have, and trying to develop a database of what exists that we can learn from and copy shamelessly so we don't have to reinvent everything. I also think he made one trip on  the federal level and visited with Teri Takai, and she facilitated some other contacts. So we're trying to spread across the Board from an advocacy point of view.

JEFF JOHNSON

Mr. Chair, I also think it's worthy of  noting for our viewers that it's been an impressive experience for me as a person who  has spent 34 years of my life in the public safety community as a fire chief. It's been impressive to me  to watch the private sector members of this Board, and  the consultants  we've hired and see the    true and genuine curiosity that you've demonstrated about the public safety disciplines, and your efforts to try to understand the street-level job.   The fact that we have  consultants who  are out there talking to fire chiefs, talking to police departments, going to New York to walk the ground in the aftermath of Sandy is quite impressive.

We have, as you know, on March 5th and 6th, a live fire training for our technical people so that they get a real feel of what it's like to be in a burning building and then do ride-alongs on the apparatus. That is the kind of curiosity that is  going to  provide insight that will  be meaningful at the street-level. And that's a compliment, I think, to the quality of people, Craig, that you've been bringing on. And the curiosity about public safety that I see in the Board is, it's a wonderful trait. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN

Teri?

TERI TAKAI

Just one other item, Tom, that Mayor Webb mentioned, but I wanted to point out again. I think it is important also that we include the county public safety organizations. Because in many states -- certainly not all of them -- the counties have been very successful in organizing their regional areas. And I think that particularly around shared assets and many of the things that we're going to  be talking about going forward, I just want to make sure in the conversation that we don't miss the counties because they will  be, I think, a big ally and a big asset for us going forward.

CRAIG FARRILL

Jeff, I just wanted to say thanks, also, to all the BTOP recipients who we visited. From a network and business point of view, we were able to see firsthand on the ground what they've done, and we were very impressed with that. So from an outreach point of view they've helped us a great deal, getting the type of input that we'd like to see from  business and technical planning. For those of us coming from the wireless side of the world, the heart and the passion that the people have to do this, we really felt like the red carpet was rolled out to us in every single case. And they showed us everything they had, everything they'd done, everything they hoped for. And it was -- they were great experiences. So we just want to say thank you to all those folks who gave us a warm welcome. And your input is folded into our planning.

CHAIRMAN

Any other comments?

TONY WEST

Just, Mr. Chairman, just again, Jeff, thank you so much. It was  great presentation. And thanks for your work on this and insuring that we're getting the public safety, law enforcement input that's critical to the success of our mission. And I want to also thank you for specifically mentioning outreach to tribal communities, which I think is important, as well as outreach to rural communities which I think share some of the same challenges. And to let you know that we're certainly happy at the Department of Justice to help you in that effort.

CHAIRMAN

Any other comments? Well, Jeff, I just want to thank you. I just want the viewers to know that essentially this program was developed with zero employees reporting to you, maybe a couple of loanees here and there. So what you saw today was a product of Jeff Johnson. And it was a great presentation. Thank you.

JEFF JOHNSON

Thank you.

CHAIRMAN

Okay, the Board is going to  get a briefing on the grant program. Stephen  Fletcher is here from NTIA, and he will handle that task.

STEPHEN  FLETCHER

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The state and local implementation grant program was part of the legislation that was established for, that put FirstNet in place. The purpose of the grant program is   to provide a mechanism whereby the state and local entities can prepare for the nationwide broadband, or public safety broadband network, as well as to consult with FirstNet.  There is  $135-million  available for NTIA to establish the grant program.  And this funding is  separate from  the funding that was established for the FirstNet activities. These  planning grants will assist state, local, regional, tribal entities  prepare for the public safety broadband nationwide network, as well as funding  consultations with FirstNet.

NTIA announced the “Federal Funding Opportunity for the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP)   on February 6,  2013.  .  We will be  reaching out to state and local  entities and helping them prepare applications for the grants. They have until March 19th to submit their grant request.   The state and local implementation grant program  is available to all 56 states and territories,  and it will help states organize their planning activities in support of the national public safety broadband network to be deployed by FirstNet. We will review those grant  applications, and we are anticipating the award of the grants by July 15th.

 The main function of this first round of grants is for the states to establish a primary contact  for communicating and coordinating with the FirstNet activities.   As the first step in this process, NTIA will be asking the states  to establish that point of contact.  There will be $121.5-million dollars in grant funds  set aside for the states. There will be a minimum of $500,000  allocated, and a maximum, a ceiling of $6-million dollars for each of the state entities. A medium or mean of about $2-million will be used per state.  The states will used these funds to organize themselves, to  be able to reach out to their local entities, including their tribal entities. And part of this will be identifying users, potential users of the nationwide public safety broadband network.

 This is a formula grant  and there is a matching requirement. NTIA will provide only 80 percent of the cost of the project, requiring the recipient to find cash or in-kind match for at least the remaining 20 percent.   And also as part of this, the Assistant  Secretary for NTIA may waive the matching requirement in part or in whole. However, I think that that will only be considered in extraordinary circumstances,   according to  the  Assistant Secretary.

We will probably split the grant in half, and 50 percent of the grant will be used in each phase. The first phase will start immediately after the award of the grant.  The first phase is basically for the states  to put a governing structure in place and to work with local and tribal entities to prepare for how they are going to go forward. There will be  allowable costs  for travel, for consultation, for preparing and  holding meetings in preparation for this organizational effort..  

Phase two activities – including collection of data on existing federal, state and local government-owned assets (such as land, buildings and telecommunications entities and rights of way) that can be used for the deployment of the public safety broadband network) -- may not begin until FirstNet has consulted with the states and informs NTIA that it is ready for those activities to begin.  Alternatively, NTIA can request revised budgets from recipients regarding phase two activities.   In the second phase, FirstNet will identify  the states’ existing assets and additional needs   through the collection of data , and FirstNet will use that information as part of the  process going forward.

There are a lot of costs that are eligible for coverage by the grants – such as training costs, costs for developing  the state’s plans, costs to identify potential public safety users, which should be identified in the application, and will be a very significant piece of this particular grant, because we want to know who the potential users are. The SLIGP funds are planning grants and   cannot be used for site preparation, for broadband deployment, for construction, for equipment usage, or for the implementation of the broadband network.

As we said, the grant application  must be submitted by March 19th, and it should identify that single officer or government entity within each  state which  we will be able to consult with. There are  evaluation criteria, and we want to make sure that states submit  good grant applications.  At NTIA we have staff who can help, and we are hiring additional staff in order to support the state organizations submitting applications, answer questions, meet with representatives of states and territories to help  in the construction of the grant applications. Once the applications are submitted, we will review them, we will coordinate with the state organizations  to make sure  they have  submitted  appropriate grants.  We will provide as much support as possible in order to  ensure  that grants meet the specifications. . In addition, we will have a peer review process to evaluate the grant applications.   The reviewers will assess the grant applications to see if they reflect  an understanding of the the particular  environment,  the public safety community, and  the potential users within the state.   

NTIA will administer these grants , and we will do that in the manner  required by statute.  I think that these grants provide  one of the really great opportunities to assist states in the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network. We will  reach out to the states and to the local and  tribal entities in order to  understand their environment,  to encourage them to prepare for this network,  and to help them  identify potential users  and consult with them.

This is also a good opportunity for the FirstNet Board to  to reach out and look at the states to see what kind of information  they require, and what kind of data  might be useful in the planning, preparation and operation of the FirstNet network. So, we think that this is an excellent  opportunity to engage all the communities, all the entities, and have them participate and plan for the FirstNet public safety broadband network. .

CHAIRMAN

Thanks, Stephen . Any questions?

TONY WEST

Mr. Chairman? Steve, thank you. That's an excellent presentation, and I agree with you, it's a great opportunity. And clearly you contemplate tribal governments applying for these grants. Could you just clarify a little bit how you envision that application process? I know it goes to states, so that's pretty easy to figure out. Or territories. Would it be tribal governments also, or would they apply through states or territories?

STEPHEN FLETCHER

The grants are  only for the 56 states and territories. And the states  have to put in place a point of contact. But as the grant application goes forward, one of the criteria  is for NTIA to ask, “ How are you going to engage all of your local  entitie, cities, counties, rural and tribal communities?” And one of the thing that they're going  to be evaluated on is how well  they engage all of those folks within their region, within their state or territory. And so, it is  very important that all of those other entities, those other government entities are coordinated and they are able to participate.

TONY WEST

Right, and I notice that  in the peer review process, you have state, local, tribal governments as a part of that process to ensure that  coordination is actually taking place.

STEPHEN FLETCHER

That is correct.

CHAIRMAN

Any other questions? Yes?

KEVIN MCGINNIS

I just want to exercise my emergency medical services (EMS) bias for a minute. I see in the guidance that you're going to be looking for the existing governance structures. The representation of various disciplines within public safety has been inconsistent in a lot of those governance bodies over the years. Can I be pretty assured, since this Act for the first time specifically says all flavors of EMS will be participants, and all hospitals that participate in EMS systems will be participants. Can I be pretty assured that you will be looking to see that they're well-represented in those state groups?

STEPHEN FLETCHER

As part of the evaluation process, we are going to be  be looking for  not only government entities, but also particularly public safety entities throughout each of the states.  So every one of those should be represented. And  part of the expectation is that they will tell us how they reach out to every different entity, public safety entity. And we absolutely want to make sure that those public safety entities are engaged and they are identified.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you, Steve.

MAYOR WELLINGTON WEBB

Just a clarification for my sake that the tribal governments have to go through the state entities. You can't fund the tribal governments directly. Is that correct?

STEPHEN FLETCHER

That is correct.

CHAIRMAN

Craig?

CRAIG FARRILL

Steve,  a great presentation. Thank you very much. I just wanted to clarify for the audience that we here at FirstNet and at NTIA are going to  be in very close coordination  in this effort to gather the information and bring the resources together. So, while NTIA is going to do a great job of administering the grant applications, our overarching purpose is really to categorize and gather together the people, but also gather together the information which is not collected at this point, and to get that information in a form in which  we can build a fine nationwide network.

  The Board is  going to  be providing you a  list of  the types of information needed. That list is in the works. There were a number of items called for in the Act, which are good suggestions. But  we're going to  go a little further than that in our list, and get more specific as to what will actually fit into the nationwide network design. So, I just wanted the listening audience to know that this is a close partnership that we're going to  be running here for the next few weeks while this gets done.

And the other clarification for the listening audience, really, is that the $135-million fund for the SLIGP planning grants is on top of the $2-million that is underwriting FirstNet. So it's often missed that the total that was given was $2.135-million, which was stipulated in the legislation.  Someone was asking me the other day if  the $135 million for the grants is subtracted from the total, and it actually is  not. It is on top of the FirstNet funds. So we're going to be working on this together and connecting with all of the states and territories.

STEPHEN FLETCHER

That is correct about the funding. The second phase of the SLIGP grants will be focused on  working with FirstNet to define the requirements and the data that will be useful as you go through the  planning process to build the network. And we will not start that phase until  the requirements and data needed  have  been defined by FirstNet.

CHAIRMAN

Let me just say something about the whole BTOP project. Because I think when we  became aware of  the suspension of the BTOP  grants , initially we thought  the issue was a great liability because, certainly, states and territories and cities were not happy. But after meeting with these various organizations, I think we see the BTOP grants as an opportunity for FirstNet to seize and put LTE systems in these states and territories in a way that will allow us to test, with the public safety community, the architectural standards and all the other things that need to be verified as we move through time. So, what looked like a problem early on,  has become an opportunity, and one that I think will really work for us. Steve, I'm looking forward to your support and help. And we're really going to  try to make this thing work for everybody. So, thank you.

STEPHEN FLETCHER

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN

I'm  going to ask for a report on the general manager's search here in a minute. But I just want to say as a preface, we find ourselves as a Board in a very unusual position. We were appointed as a Board. We exist but we have no employees. We had no bylaws. We had no essentially approved budgets. We had nothing. So we've had to start from a clean sheet of paper to create what you've seen today. And I think we've done a pretty good job of getting to where we are. I do think we are on the knee of the curve. And I think from here you're  going to  see a lot more activity and a lot more progress in architecting the network and our outreach programs, and all the other things that we've talked about today.

Now as you can imagine, it is a real priority to get our senior management team in place. It's very important. We need to do that because then we can revert back to being Board members and not a part of operating management, which we don't want to be. So we've had a committee searching for the general manager. Tim Bryan is head of that committee, along with Chuck Dowd and Teri Takai. I think they've had some help from Paul Fitzgerald and Kevin McGinnis. They've been hard at work. And why don't you give us a status of the GM search?

TIM BRYAN
Okay, Sam. Thanks very much. I'll do this in a relatively brief fashion. But I think for the benefit of the public listeners, maybe just do a quick review of the process that we went through to get to where we are today. Obviously after our first Board meeting in September, Sam, the committee was set up and charged with getting going on finding a general manager or a leader for FirstNet. So, we worked as a Board to publish a prospectus and a position spec. We got that published. We were able to get that on websites, we were able to distribute that via email, and just reached out to every place we could reach out to to get interested candidates. We ended up with several dozen interested candidates. We got a lot of resumes by our date in December.

Subsequent to that, the committee met. We had a lot of help from NTIA and from the Department of Justice. They lent us personnel. We reviewed the resumes and we, in January, as a committee and as a Board, got down to just under a dozen folks whom we decided we wanted to continue discussions with. We then invited some of them in in person, some of them on conference calls to talk with us. And subsequently,  I met with the committee and received a lot of additional help from NTIA and the Department of Justice. Carried on that process, Sam, to the point where today we  , as a cross-section of all the different kind of interests on the Board at every stage, have managed to unanimously agree on the candidates who should move forward.

We've come to the point where we've got four candidates whom  we think we ought to move forward.  I know we've spoken about setting up a process in the very, very near future to obviously have you visit with them, some other board members that may again represent a cross-section of the Board. And our goal, Sam, is to have a candidate selected, and hopefully, start the process of bringing that person on board to get going as the general manager literally within the next 30 days.

So, I think the thing I would emphasize is, once again, the Board -- not just the committee, but all members of the Board -- and particularly also members of the branches of government that have assisted  us, have been enormously helpful. And I'm just happy that at every step, all of the different interests represented on the Board came together in moving these candidates forward. So we're looking forward to finishing the process for you, Sam.

CHAIRMAN

Thank you very much. Yes. I'm looking forward to that process being completed myself. [laughter]

CHUCK DOWD

Yes , I just want to add that  Teri and Tim and Anna --  and the whole group that worked hard on this --  we all wanted to get this done as quickly as we could. But I just also want to point out that even though we're moving certain candidates forward to you, to the Board, there were a number of people that we felt were very, very talented in this group. And I think there will  be opportunities as we move forward to steal some of those away from where they are and get them involved with this effort. So we discovered that there is a lot of ability out there.

CHAIRMAN

I would say this. If you're viewing this program and this excites you, and you'd like to be a part of it, you might let that be known because over the next few months we're going to  be building out the management team. By the way, I'm told that Rand Beers is on the call, and I had not understood that. Hi, Rand.

RAND

Yes, I'm here. I've been here from the beginning.

CHAIRMAN

Yes, I know. I apologize for not introducing you. I just didn't know you were there.

RAND

Okay, that's all right.

CHAIRMAN

Okay, have we taken care of anything, is there anything on anybody's mind? Ed, you've been quiet. Are you okay?

ED REYNOLDS

I'm good.

CHAIRMAN

Okay. Anybody else? Dana?

DANA

No.

CHAIRMAN

Alright.  . I'm going to adjourn the Board meeting at this point in time, and indicate to those who are outside that in about 15 or 20 minutes we'll be having a press conference. We'll just take a short break here. And I think the plan is to invite you into this room, give you microphone, and we will make all the Board members available for your questions. So thanks, everybody, for attending, and we'll look forward to the press conference.

[END TRANSCRIPT]