Obama names FCC transition team

by Harry A. Jessell, TV Newsday

Two academics Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach will lead the Obama FCC transition team with the responsibility of advising the incoming administration on policy, budget and personnel matters, the Obama-Biden office announced today.

Crawford is a professor of law at the University of Michigan, teaching communications law and Internet law. She was a partner with Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) until the end of 2002, when she left to become a legal academic. Crawford recently ended her term as a member of the board of directors of ICANN.

Werbach is an assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and the organizer of the annual Supernova technology conference. His research explores the legal and business dynamics of information and communications technologies. During the Clinton administration, he served as counsel for new technology policy at the FCC.

"The teams will begin their efforts today, and will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in," the Obama transition office said.

The appointment of Crawford and Werbach as head of the FCC team is a bit of a surprise. Various press reports had said that former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera would lead the team.

Rivera is working on the transition, but is leading the team assigned to the National Science Foundation.

Rivera may have been bumped from the FCC team because of ethics guidelines. Rivera is a communications attorney at Wiley, Rein with an active practice before the FCC.

Crawford, Werbach and Rivera are members of a larger Agency Review Working Group overseeing the science, technology, space and arts agencies. It is headed by former National Cable & Telecommunications President Tom Wheeler.

Another surprise is the appointment of former FCC Commissioner Susan Ness as a co-leader the Federal Trade Commission transition team. Her teams reports to Reed Hundt, the former FCC chairman, who is heading the Agency Review Working Group on economics and International Trade. Ness and Hundt served together on the FCC during the Clinton Administration.

Ness was a big fundraiser for Hilary Clinton in her race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Her presence on the Obama transition team signals that she had made the switch the Obama and is a viable candidate for the FCC chairmanship.

article originally published at http://www.tvnewsday.com/articles/2008/11/14/daily.9/.

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