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Katz to Be FCC Chief of Staff

Zachary Katz, chief counsel to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, has been named chief of staff, succeeding Eddie Lazarus.  Sherrese Smith, currently senior counsel and legal advisor for media issues, will succeed Katz as chief counsel.

That was the lede on a number of changes to the chairman's staff announced Thursday.

"As I know from working closely with Zac on many important initiatives," said the chairman, "he has exceptionally good judgment, tremendous aptitude, and the strong leadership qualities to serve as Chief of Staff. The agency is fortunate to have an extraordinarily accomplished senior team to lead an ambitious policy agenda as we start the new year. Building on the successes of the past few years, this team will be focused on unleashing the benefits of broadband, driving economic growth, and opportunity for all Americans."

Before being named chief counsel, Katz had been deputy chief of the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. He joined the FCC from the White House Counsel's Office.

He is said to have been instrumental in helping produce the FCC's open Internet rules and USF reform proposals.

Rick Kaplan, who was said to have been a candidate for the post, elected to remain atop the FCC's Wireless Bureau, which is currently a hot spot given the FCC's, and Obama administration, focus on wireless broadband.

Lazarus announced his exit Dec. 14. He had been the chief policy gatekeeper -- that chief policy being broadband deployment and adoption -- and top adviser to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski since June 2009. Before that, he was an attorney with Akin Gump in L.A.

The chairman seemed to signal with the series of announcements about increased responsibilities for his staffers that he would be spreading those responsibilities around a bit.

He also announced Thursday that Josh Gottheimer, senior counsel, will spearhead a new FCC team focusing on public-private initiatives like the Connect to Compete broadband adoption program and others associated with the national broadband plan's focus on jobs, health care, energy, education and public safety applications of broadband.

Amy Levine, special counsel and legal advisor, will become senior counsel, continuing to focus on wireless, public safety and homeland security issues, while Michael Steffen will join the chairman's office as legal adviser, focusing on wireline, international and internet issues, including the ongoing Universal Service Fund reform and open Internet issues. He has been special counsel in the office of general counsel.

"This is a splendid choice," said Media Access Project's Andrew Schwartzman. "Zac is a smart and steady presence in the Chariman's office. Since he is close to the Chairman and has been working in the Chairman's office, MAP looks forward to a seamless transition."

""We congratulate Zach Katz on his appointment as chief of staff to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski," said Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld. "Zach is a diligent and dedicated defender of the public interest, and we look forward to working with him on a variety of challenging issues. We also congratulate Sherrese Smith, Josh Gottheimer, Amy Levine and Michael Steffen on their new roles and duties."