Updated 5:55 p.m.
A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC's chief counsel both announced today that they are stepping down.
Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell was re-appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. He was the senior member of the FCC's Republican minority.
"Rob McDowell has been an extraordinary colleague – deeply knowledgeable about the vital and growing communications and tech sector, creative, wise, and a great partner on the Commission," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement.
Genachowski credited McDowell with the landmark reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation, and many steps to unleash spectrum.
"We may not have always had the same perspective on every issue, but we were always able to work together—and our policies are better for it," commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement
McDowell said in an interview that he was proud of trying "to make the case for regulators to be patient and trust markets while also understanding that no regulation comes without a cost."
More specifically, he touted the agency's efforts to "put more spectrum in the hands of American consumers for mobile broadband," among other achievements.
McDowell said he didn't know what he'd be doing next. "I have served for seven years, that’s a long time for this type of job," he said. "I have no agenda going forward. I don’t know what the next chapter of my life will look like."
Prior to joining the FCC, McDowell was senior vice president for the Competitive Telecommunications Association, an association representing competitive facilities-based telecommunications service providers and their supplier partners.
Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, confirmed that FCC Chief Counsel Sherrese Smith also will be leaving the commission in the next few weeks.
Appointed by Genachowski to her current post, Smith previously served as senior counsel. Prior to that, she was most recently vice president and general counsel of Washington Post Digital.
Smith manages the Commission's overall policy agenda, and is responsible for policy coordination among its bureaus and offices. More importantly, "she was one of my most trusted advisors – a close confidant whom I consulted on almost every major decision and issue," Genachowski said in a statement.
Genachowski said Smith's accomplishments include brokering deals with mobile providers to end bill shock, revamping the Video Relay Service, helping move broadcasters' public files to the internet, and increasing competition in the pay-TV market.
In an interview, Smith said that during her time at the agency, "I have accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish." She added that, "I am very proud of the changes we made to the program access [rules]…I am also very proud of the revamp system for TV and online disclosure push with broadcasters."
Though she declined to say what her next career move would be, Smith noted that, "It was just time for me to leave. It seemed like a natural time. I am ready for my next challenge…I hope to stay in this space in some capacity."
Though he has yet to confirm his plans, news reports have noted that Genachowski is likely to announce his departure soon as well.