Obama Names Transition Teams, Taps a VC as Tech Lead

On Friday Nov. 14, President Elect Barack Obama announced a flurry of appointments of individuals who will help him manage the transition to a new administration. The Agency Review Team will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make policy and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration.

The list includes teams that will review all of the major agencies and cabinet level departments, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of Energy, among others.

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 policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.

Among the more interesting picks was Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and former President of the National Cable Television Association. Wheeler will head up the team responsible for overseeing review of the science, technology, space and arts agencies.

One of the most important elements of this team is the FCC Review Team. Obama picked two well-known tech policy experts, Kevin Werbach and Susan Crawford. Both are long-time net neutrality fans, reports Wired.

Former Democratic FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera was the Obama campaign’s first choice to lead the FCC review team. But the Wall Street Journal blog Washington Wire reported that when his name was leaked, Democratic telecom attorneys complained about the pick.

Rivera’s firm, Wiley Rein LLC, is close to the current Republican-controlled FCC. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin came to the agency from the firm, as did several of the lawyers he picked to help him run the agency. So instead, Rivera was named a co-chairman of the committee reviewing candidates for the National Science Foundation instead

Here are the bios of Werbach and Crawford..

FCC Review Team Leads
Susan 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. Ms Crawford recently ended her term as a member of the Board of Directors of ICANN.

Ken Werbach is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the organizer of the annual Supernova technology conference (http://www.supernova2009.com). His research explores the legal and business dynamics of information and communications technologies. Formerly, he served as Counsel for New Technology Policy at the FCC during the Clinton Administration. He has also edited Release 1.0, a renowned technology newsletter, and founded Supernova Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm.

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