The Aspen Institute has announced that outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will become a senior fellow for the nonprofit think tank to advise it on communications policy. By accepting the Aspen Institute position, Genachowski is following in the footsteps of several previous FCC chairmen, including former FCC chairmen Reed Hundt (D), William Kennard (D), Michael Powell (R), and Bush administration predecessor Kevin Martin (R). While the consecutive appointments may seem like a revolving door, Aspen has no regulatory or lobbying functions, and exists with a mission to "foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues" through seminars, conferences, and leadership development programs.
As chairman of the FCC, Genachowski presided over a period of rapid development and a consolidation of corporate power in the telecommunications industry that has alarmed some advocates and commerce watchdogs; the chairman blocked AT&T's attempt to take over T-Mobile, but allowed the Comcast-NBC merger to go through, leaving those in favor of corporate overhauls wanting. Still, Genachowski pushed the FCC towards being a more consumer-facing agency that supports the interest of citizens with net neutrality rules, rural and national broadband initiatives, and plans to expand Wi-Fi spectrum. Now, Genachowski is off to influence telecommunications policy from outside of the federal government.
If his inaugural statement is any indication, Genachowski will carry his lofty language on the value of connectivity to the Aspen Institute. "I'm enthusiastic about helping the Aspen Institute advance its important mission," the FCC chairman said. "The internet and mobile are having a transformative impact on our economy and society. The institute has an unparalleled ability to convene business, government, and nonprofit leaders to address the effect of digital technologies on many of the world's most vexing problems." There's still no word on when Genachowski will actually vacate his seat at the FCC, but with the welcome mat rolled out for his next job it can't be long from now.