FirstNet appoints new CEO, president to advisory board

Former police captain and tech executive Michael Poth will become the board's CEO. Acting executive director TJ Kennedy will become president.

The First Responder Network Authority, a government organization that’s working to develop a nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders, has appointed new leaders to its advisory board.

Michael Poth, a former police captain and technology executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp., will serve as CEO, while acting executive director TJ Kennedy will become president, according to a release from the FirstNet Board.

The reorganization of FirstNet leadership comes four months after it issued a draft request for proposals on the network’s development and operation. At a congressional hearing in June on the network’s progress toward establishment, Kennedy said the final RFP could be released as soon as the end of the year. The authority also has released more than a dozen requests for information about different aspects of the network.

As president, Kennedy will continue to work on drafting and releasing the final RFP. He also will oversee FirstNet’s external communications, legislative affairs, public safety efforts and state outreach, according to the release. Meanwhile, Poth will focus on developing the final RFP as well, and will cultivate partnerships required to “build, market, operate and oversee” the network.


In the past several months, the group has been traveling to states to hold official “consultations” on what each state’s role will be during the network’s rollout. But state technology leaders appear to have mixed opinions about the program. While most state chief information officers recognize the network’s importance, they worry what the federal government will ask from states in the process.

“The FirstNet story changes rather frequently,” Kentucky CIO Jim Fowler told StateScoop in April. “We’d like to get some consistency, we’d like to understand what level of state participation the federal government is expecting.”

NASCIO’s Vice President and New Mexico’s CIO Darryl Ackley said at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ federal advocacy day in April that a “positive and productive relationship” is key to the program’s success.

“This is a tremendously large and ambitious undertaking: States and FirstNet need to be working toward unified goals with a common understanding of who has what responsibility,” he said.

Jake Williams

Written by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is a Staff Reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop. At StateScoop, he covers the information technology issues and events at state and local governments across the nation. In the past, he has covered the United States Postal Service, the White House, Congress, cabinet-level departments and emerging technologies in the unmanned aircraft systems field for FedScoop. Before FedScoop, Jake was a contributing writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has had work published in the Huffington Post and several regional newspapers and websites in Pennsylvania. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, Jake graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. At IUP, Jake was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Penn, and the president of the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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