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Seifert To Head NTIA Broadband Allocation: Sources

Mark Seifert, formerly with the Federal Communications Commission, has been tapped, according to sources, to head up the policy side of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's allocation of billions of dollars in broadband stimulus grant and loan money, with Bernadette McGuire-Rivera set to handle administrative duties.

McGuire-Rivera has a lot on her plate already given that she also has been the NTIA point person on the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program. She will reportedly be staffing up NTIA's Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, which she heads up as associate administrator, to help ease the workload.

Seifert, who dealt with universal service isssues as a Common Carrier Bureau deputy chief and is also a former House Energy & Commerce Committee staffer, was brought in after acting NTIA head Anna Gomex recused herself from the grant administration process, the sources said. Gomez is formerly a Washington government affairs executive with Sprint-Nextel, which could make a bid for some of the broadband money.

The White House has yet to nominate a permanent head of NTIA, but sources say Larry Strickland, Obama policy advisor and former FCC common carrier bureau chief, tops the list of candidates.

It is unclear whether Seifert would remain if Strickland is nominated and confirmed.

Representatives of the NTIA, the FCC and the Ag Department's Rural Utilities Service are meeeting next week to talk about how to hand out $7 billion-plus set aside in the Obama administration's economic stimulus package to provide Internet to unserved and underserved areas. Seifert and McGuire-Rivera are both slated to weigh in at the public meeting, with Seifert billed on the agenda as a senior advisor.

Among the issues they ultimately have to hammer out is defining what areas qualify as "underserved" and how to implement Congress' requirements for open access and nondiscriminatory interconnection.