GAO: DTV Transition Should Be Priority For Obama Administration

Government Accounting Office identifies DTV transition as a critical, time-sensitive issue for incoming administration.

Where should oversight of the DTV transition fall on the priority list of the Obama transition team? According to the Government Accounting Office, it should be right up there at the top.

"Ensuring an effective transition to digital TV" is one of the "urgent policy concerns" GAO has identified as a critical, time-sensitive issue that should be on the to-do list of the new administration along with rebuilding the military and improving our image abroad. That message was part of the GAO’s presidential transition portion of its Web site.

Former FCC Chairman and current Obama communications advisor Bill Kennard told B&C back in July that he would recommend that someone be named to monitor the DTV transition during the Obama transition, saying: "Absolutely. Someone needs to be doing that. When you think you are going to have a new president-elect, then an inauguration in early February, who is going to be minding the store during that time?"

Kennard's office at The Carlyle Group was not taking calls on the issue, referring reports to the Obama transition team press office in Chicago.

A spokesperson for that office had not returned a call at press time about who the team would be assigning to monitor the transition, which is set to occur for most of the country on Feb. 17, 2009, only three weeks after the new president takes over.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, an arm of Commerce, will have to be transitioning as it also tries to wrap up its DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program.

A spokesman for NTIA had no comment about any specifics of the hand-off there, but did pass along the following comment from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on the transition of adminstrations in general: "The Department of Commerce welcomes members of the new Administration and we look forward to working with them to ensure a seamless transition. We have taken a series of important steps to ensure that the incoming team quickly understands the Department's ongoing work and has immediate access to necessary resources. We are committed to ensuring that the Department continues to serve the American people with the highest level of efficiency and professionalism."