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Space-Based PNT NCO Director Retiring; New RITA Director Confirmed

Oversees interagency GPS efforts.

Jan Brecht-Clark web.jpg
October 30, 2013

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After just a year in office, the leader of the organization that helps keep federal GPS activities in sync is retiring.

National Coordination Office (NCO) Director Jan Brecht-Clark, told Inside GNSS that her family convinced her it was a good time to make the move.

“My family has been talking to me about retiring while I still have my health,” she said, adding that she is looking forward to traveling.

“I have been on every continent except Australia and Antarctica,” she said. “I am definitely wanting to round out the list with Australia and then look to the south a bit with Antarctica — maybe not right away, but that would be nice to complete.”

Brecht-Clark’s last day will be December 13.

Greg Winfree, the newly confirmed administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), will likely announce her successor as that office contributes the billet that funds the position — although the process to choose the new director is not yet clear. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), of which RITA is a part, declined today (October 30, 2013) to comment.

Brecht-Clark came to the NCO from a 19-month tour in Afghanistan where she managed a DoT team working to help the government of Afghanistan design and approve a civil aviation authority and a railroad authority. Before that she served as RITA's associate administrator for Research, Development and Technology, helping coordinate some $1 billion in transportation research.

Previously she had been deputy director of the Transportation Security Administration’s compliance office, overseeing domestic and international operations. She also served in the White House as the director of Aviation and Transportation Security in the Office of Homeland Security and later on the Homeland Security Council. She played a key role in coordinating interagency agreements essential to ensuring aviation and transportation security following 9/11.

Those who worked with Brecht-Clark praised her tenure at the NCO.

“She has been effective,” said Brad Parkinson, vice chair of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board. He highlighted Brecht-Clark’s communication skills and grasp of the nuances of the NCO’s work. “She is a very bright lady,” he said.

“Dr. Jan Brecht-Clark’s unique background and varied experiences have been a great benefit to the many federal agencies that work together to make GPS the “gold standard” of the PNT world,” said Jim Miller, deputy director for policy and strategic communications in the Space Communications and Navigation at NASA, which sponsors the PNT Advisory Board.

“She brought a fresh perspective and ‘new blood’ into a well-established community, and served her country for many years prior,” Miller added. “Although her tenure at the NCO was relatively brief, her stable leadership has left the interagency with some new insights from which to operate in the future. Her contributions are appreciated.”

Brecht-Clark said she was most proud of keeping the NCO focused and productive during the many challenges the government has gone through in the past year.
“The budget challenges, the furlough challenge, the sequester challenge — all of them together. They seem to come in sequence — as we weathered one, something else came up,” she said, adding how proud she was of the NCO’s staff. “They are dedicated. They are motivated and hardworking — very professional and competent.  It has been a joy to work with them.”

That staff, she suggested, will be the key to success for the NCO’s next director.

“I think what I would say to my successor is look to the staff. They have the knowledge you need to really address any of the issues that might walk through the door,” she said. “They are competent. They are capable. They’ve got historical knowledge. They’ve got technical knowledge. They are a phenomenal resource.”

The Senate confirmed Winfree and two other DoT nominees during the urgent October 16 session that finally ended the government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling. He was RITA’s acting administrator for more than two years, stepping into the role in October 2011. He was then nominated by the White House to officially fill the post July 13, 2013.

Winfree had served as RITA’s chief counsel, coming to the agency from industry where he previously had worked as chief litigation counsel for Phelps Dodge Corporation, director of litigation for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and litigation counsel for Union Carbide Corporation. Prior to that he was a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Jammer Dectector
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