The States and FirstNet: An Early Look from the State CIOs

LEXINGTON, Ky., Wednesday, June 11 — When it comes to FirstNet, a nationwide high-speed wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety, state governments are taking divergent approaches to planning and varied strategies for engaging with federal and local partners according to a report released today by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). The research report is based on the results of a survey of State CIOs that illustrates not only the ongoing planning around the network, but also the diverse approaches being employed by the states for engagement with local stakeholders, the federal FirstNet Authority, and even other states. It also shows a significant distribution in the maturity of state planning, ongoing outreach, and governance strategies. The report, The States and FirstNet: An Early Look from the State CIOs, is available at

“Building a nationwide public safety communications network is going to require a tremendous amount of planning, negotiation, and collaboration across all levels of government,” said Darryl Ackley, co-chair of the NASCIO Broadband Committee and chief information officer for the state of New Mexico. “This report provides an early snapshot of how the states are approaching this extremely complex policy and infrastructure initiative.”

Some of NASCIO’s results were surprising, with almost a quarter of states not engaged in active stakeholder outreach, and more than half the states already collecting data they plan to utilize in their planning efforts. NASCIO also found that while over 70 percent of states appear to have a governance model in place and are turning towards actively engaging in planning and outreach with key stakeholders, some have aggressively moved ahead and have begun collecting data, while a handful are still working on initial governance and staffing concerns.

NASCIO Broadband Committee co-chair and state chief information officer for Wisconsin, David Cagigal said, “FirstNet is a major intergovernmental undertaking, with the need for states to do budgeting forecasts, infrastructure and technology planning, and education and outreach to potential users. How states approach this problem will have a significant bearing on whether we end up with a successful, sustainable model for this major national endeavor.”

When the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act was signed into law in February 2012, it created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)—tasked with building, operating and maintaining the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety in conjunction with the states. FirstNet will provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications, fulfilling one of the last outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.