In Depth

Obama Assembles FCC Transition Team

President-elect Barack Obama today named two academics to head his transition team looking at issues and personnel for the Federal Communications Commission.

Susan Crawford, a University of Michigan law professor of communications law, and Ken Werbach, a Wharton School assistant professor and a former counsel for new technology policy at the FCC during the Clinton administration, will lead the team.

Ms. Crawford is a former partner of a Washington law firm that specializes in communications law and recently left the board of directors of ICANN, a group that oversees Internet domain-name registration. Mr. Werbach edited Release 1.0, a technology newsletter, and founded Supernova Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm.

The Obama transition team includes a number of former FCC officials, but under the conflict-of-interest rules adopted by the president-elect’s team, many may be barred from directly examining FCC issues.

President-elect Obama’s office said today that Ms. Crawford and Mr. Werbach are part of the Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team that will be directed by Tom Wheeler, a former president of National Cable and Telecommunications.

Mr. Wheeler, who also headed the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, is currently managing director of Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. He is taking a leave of absence to work with the new administration.

Among former FCC officials also working on teams in the transition: Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt (overseeing review of economic and international trade issues); former FCC commissioner Henry M. Rivera (working on the National Science Foundation’s transition); and former FCC commissioner Susan Ness (working on the Federal Trade Commission transition).

Don Gips, a former director of the FCC’s International Bureau, is one of the three co-chairs of the overall agency review team that the FCC team will report to.

Mr. Gips is on leave from his role as group VP-global corporate development at Level 3 Communications, where he leads merger and acquisition efforts and is the chief strategy officer. Prior to joining Level 3, Mr. Gips served in the White House as Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore.

(Editor: Baumann)