Rick Kaplan, head of the wireless bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, is stepping down in the latest high-level staffing shift at the agency.

Kaplan will be replaced by Ruth Milkman, who currently serves as a special counsel to the FCC chairman and a former wireless bureau chief. Kaplan does not have immediate plans after leaving his position and the changes will take place in mid-June, according to a FCC news release.

The FCC late last week also announced its general counsel, Austin Schlick, has resigned from the agency. Schlick was the agency’s lead litigator for its defense of controversial net neutrality rules, among other lawsuits brought on the agency in recent years. He was replaced by Sean Lev, who had been deputy general counsel.

Kaplan’s departure comes as the agency reviews Verizon Wireless’ controversial $3.6 billion bid for spectrum owned by cable companies. The deal also has a cross-marketing agreement that has raised competition concerns among lawmakers and regulators.

Kaplan played a key role in the agency’s decision to reject AT&T’s bid for T-Mobile late last year.

“For the past three years, Rick Kaplan has been critical in helping us navigate some of the most challenging, complex and important initiatives at the agency — starting with the DTV transition to all things wireless to complex merger and acquisition reviews,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a release.

Kaplan served as Genachowski’s senior advisor on wireless issues. In June 2011, he was appointed to lead the agency’s wireless bureau.

In those positions, he helped develop the agency’s goal of auctioning broadcast spectrum for wireless providers. That proposal was approved by Congress earlier this year and is expected to result in voluntary auctions to bolster wireless Internet networks.


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