FirstNet Recommendations

To: FirstNet
From: National Governors Association
Date: November 2016
Re:  Recommendations for Engaging States as Full Partners

In June 2016, NGA testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet during a hearing entitled, “FirstNet Oversight: An Update on the Status of the Public Safety Broadband Network.”

In its testimony, NGA emphasized how important it is that FirstNet view and engage states as full partners in planning and building the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The reason for that is not only to meet the statutory requirements for state consultations, but more importantly to ensure that key information, processes, and expertise within states can be appropriately brought to bear on the full range of FirstNet activities.

Based on its outreach to states, NGA has identified the following recommendations which propose ways FirstNet can strengthen its engagement with states.

  1. When communicating updates or transmitting information to states, FirstNet should do so through the State Point of Contact (SPOC). If FirstNet has a compelling reason to communicate directly with the governor’s office or other local or state authorities, it should notify the SPOC in advance of those communications. If advance notice is not possible, FirstNet should debrief the SPOC on the nature of the communications immediately afterwards.
  2. When traveling to a state, FirstNet should notify the SPOC at least 15 days in advance. Further, FirstNet should provide the SPOC a calendar with dates of all planned state visits.
  3. FirstNet and its vendor, once selected, should robustly engage states to develop their respective state plans. These engagements should include regular communication with the SPOC before, during, and after state draft plans are developed. States should have as many opportunities as possible to review and provide comments on iterations of the draft plans.
  4. To promote transparency and help states better understand plans for buildout of the NPSBN, FirstNet should provide all SPOCs access to the winning vendor’s proposal to FirstNet as soon as the vendor selection has been made.
  5. FirstNet should tell the SPOC the date by which it will submit the state’s draft plan. After draft plans are delivered, FirstNet and NGA should convene regional meetings to provide states an opportunity to share with each other details of their respective plans, raise any issues or concerns they may have, and identify recommendations for improving plans.
  6. Newly elected governors and their staff should be engaged early and often to ensure they have the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to opt in or opt out of FirstNet. Such visits should be coordinated through the state’s SPOC.
  7. FirstNet should regularly update NGA on the status of FirstNet activities so that NGA can apprise governors and their key staff (e.g., governors’ Washington Representatives, Homeland Security Advisors, statewide interoperability coordinators, policy advisors, and legal counsels) of new developments. FirstNet should consider producing a quarterly newsletter that describes FirstNet activities and progress on buildout of the NPSBN. The newsletter could highlight activities in different jurisdictions, and serve as an efficient way to update state and local stakeholders on key developments.

FirstNet should continue being responsive to governors’ and SPOCs’ requests for information and assistance. When a governor’s office or SPOC makes such a request, FirstNet should ensure that both are aware that a request has been made. In the event that a state is not able to support the SPOC position following expiration of the State and Local Implementation Grant Program, FirstNet should communicate with the state through an alternative single point of contact designated by the governor, such as the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, to ensure ongoing coordinated communication with the state.