The FCC’s Mignon Clyburn era figures to be brief, but that said it will be of unknown duration. The Acting Chair told the FCC staff that she sees herself as a middle runner in a relay race and will try to advance the FCC’s mission ahead of the arrival of the next chair.
Clyburn says she is looking to the most recent former acting chair, Michael Copps, as a role model. Copps took over for Kevin Martin and in advance of the arrival of Julius Genachowski and during his brief term essentially completed the transition to digital broadcast television.
Here is her full statement to the FCC staff:
“By now you may have heard, that President Obama has asked me to serve as Acting Chair of the FCC, pending the confirmation of Tom Wheeler. I wish to express my deep appreciation for this incredible opportunity, and commend President Obama, for his excellent choice of Tom Wheeler, as our next Chairman.
“Because we don’t know how long I will be in this position, with my tenure directly linked to the efficiency of the U.S. Senate, I thought it would be a good idea for us to get together, to assure each other, that we’re on the same page.
“Allow me to get straight to the point: I love the FCC, and to lead this agency is one of the greatest honors of my life. For in my view, there are two things that set this agency apart.
“The first is its people: all of you. Obviously, this agency is filled with world-class talent, but the staff at the FCC is not just smart and talented, you are caring, and committed to public service.
“The last two attributes were immediately made clear to me, when I entered the building, nearly four years ago. So many of you, have made my transition from South Carolina less traumatic, with words of support, kind gestures, and yes, warm hugs just when I needed them. I also want to thank my fellow Commissioners, for their support over the years: more recently Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai, and of course, Julius Genachowski, Rob McDowell, Mike Copps and Meredith Baker.
“The second thing that sets this agency apart from the rest is its mission. I was raised to believe in the value of public service, by a support system, which through hard work and volunteerism, reinforced the importance and rewards, of that motto, “service above self”. And for us, there is no more exciting or critical mission in government, than working to accelerate the communications revolution that’s transforming our economy, and the way we live.
“We have an important mission, and this is an important time.
“I assume the role of Acting Chair, with a great sense of responsibility, but also great humility. And as we await the confirmation of Tom Wheeler, I see myself as a member of a relay team, running one of the middle legs. My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton.
“I consider my friend Mike Copps, a model for an outstanding Acting Chair. He approached this job with seriousness, humility, and led this agency through the completion of the DTV transition – a major accomplishment.
“So if asked about my goals as I take this new position, I would answer without hesitation – its hallmarks will be continuity and progress.
“At 12:01am on Saturday, I actually became the Acting Chair of the Federal Communications Commission. This time gave me an opportunity to reflect a bit over the weekend.
“I thought of my swearing-in, in the summer of 2009. It took place in South Carolina, because until then, that was the only place I could ever think about calling home.
“Today, however, I see the FCC as home, and you, my regulatory family. Like every other family, we may disagree at times, and yes, frustrate each other, but at the end of the day, we’ve got each other’s back. We’ve got America’s back.
“So while we may face many challenges in the days and weeks ahead, by working together, we will continue to do great things. Continuity and progress: the hallmarks, the building blocks, of a great time, great people and a great agency. Thank you for all that you’ve done, and what you will continue to do, to make this nation proud.
“Thank you, and Godspeed.”
Clyburn’s colleague Ajit Pai weighed in, saying, “Congratulations to my friend and colleague, Mignon Clyburn, on her designation this morning as Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. This is a historic day—as the 30th chair, she is the first woman to lead our 79-year-old agency. I know that her steadfast leadership and commitment to the public interest will serve the Commission well. I look forward to continuing to work with her in the months ahead on policies that will promote innovation and competition and benefit American consumers.”