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New Head of NTIA

The door at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration keeps on revolving. Yesterday, President Bush nominated Vice President Cheney's head of policy, Neil Suryakant Patel, to be Acting Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce. Patel will replace Merideth Attwell Baker, the interim head since last November, who is charged with the $1.5 billion subsidy program for the transition from analog to digital television in early 2009.

Baker has talked about leaving the NTIA for months and is leaving the bureau "to pursue other opportunities," according to a spokesman Todd Sedmak. She became the acting secretary after the departure of John Kneuer, who left last November for the private sector.

Patel, 38, comes from Vice President Cheney's office, where he was the assistant to the veep for domestic and economic policy. In his role at the White House, Patel served as the primary advisor on all domestic and economic policy issues including energy and the environment, healthcare, finanancial services, transportation, international economics and technology and telecommunications, according to a biography by the vice president's office.

Before joining the administration, Patel served as assistant general counsel at UUNET Technologies, one of the first commercial Internet service providers. At UUNET, he worked on policy issues including e-commerce, internet taxation, and internet security and abuse. After graduating from Georgetown University Law School, Patel worked at law firm Dechert Price & Rhoads.

Immediately after the announcement, Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner McDowell released statements in support of the appointment. Industry representatives such as Verizon also applauded the appointment.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 6, 2008; 5:01 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang , Databases
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