Emergency communications agency finds ways to hire friends, skirt competitive bidding

As a new federal agency set out in the summer of 2012 on the mammoth task of building a nationwide, wireless communications network for over 4 million emergency responders, an eyebrow-raising pattern took shape.

The First Responder Network Authority was stacking its ranks with more than 20 board members, staffers and pricy consultants who were familiar faces to the agency’s newly appointed chairman, Samuel Ginn, or to a longtime associate who joined him at the agency.

All had worked or consulted for the British firm that Ginn had chaired, the telecom colossus Vodafone, or for AirTouch Communications, which Ginn headed in the 1990s before Vodafone bought it.

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