August 26, 2016–The board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today approved the organization’s $6.585 billion budget for fiscal year 2017 and granted the FirstNet management team more authority in making spending decisions. The bulk of the budget, $6.5 billion, is earmarked for the yet-to-be-selected winner of a contract to deploy the FirstNet public safety interoperable network using 20 megahertz of 700 MHz band spectrum allocated to FirstNet for that purpose. Another $84.6 million is for FirstNet’s operations, according to a management team presentation during a special teleconference meeting of the board and finance committee today.
FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson emphasized during the meeting that the board is willing to work with management if adjustments in the budget are needed going forward. The budget approved today “will drive the achievement of major milestones along our Strategic Roadmap in what will be a pivotal year for FirstNet, including critical post-award priorities such as State plans and continued outreach to public safety,” Ms. Swenson said in a press statement.
In a separate resolution, the board expanded the spending authority of the management team from what it had granted in a December 2012 resolution “to ensure all funds collected by FirstNet are available for use on a timely basis.” Going forward, management will notify the board of any expenditures over $10 million, and the board may request review of such expenditures; board approval will be required for expenditures exceeding $25 million or that involve a period of performance exceeding five years; and board approval is required for all real property leases.
The finance committee approved both the budget resolution and the management spending flexibility resolution during today’s teleconference before the board’s votes to approve the two resolutions.
Reporting to the board during today’s teleconference, FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said that FirstNet is “still working feverishly” on the evaluation of responses to its request for proposals (RFP) from parties interested in deploying the FirstNet network. The organization is “still targeting the award in the November time frame,” he said. He added, “We anticipate asking the board to come together in early November to weigh in on the award for this partnership.”
In a press statement, Mr. Poth said that the budget approved today “provides us with the flexibility we will need to operationalize, deliver 56 individual State plans, and enable public safety adoption of the Network. We look forward to having a contract in place and working with our partner to firm up the targeted milestones we outlined today, including the delivery of draft and final State plans.
Reporting to the Finance Committee during a teleconference this morning, FirstNet Chief Financial Officer Kim Farington said that by the end of fiscal 2016, FirstNet expects to spend $108 million, or about 85% of its 2016 budget. She added, “We have achieved every milestone … except for one [which we anticipate completing] and that is completing stakeholder engagements which are continuing and ongoing.” —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org