Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.

Syndicate content

Weights and Measures Week 2015: On the Path to Tomorrow

Weights and Measures Week 2015: On the Path to Tomorrow

Guest blog post by Carol Hockert, Director, Office of Weights and Measures, National Institute of Standards and Technology 

It’s held annually during the first week of March to commemorate President John Adams's signing of the first U.S. weights and measures law on March 2, 1799, but you may not be aware of it. Weights and Measures Week is when we as a nation take a moment to sing the praises of our unsung heroes, weights and measures inspectors and other weights and measures professionals and recognize the well-lubricated machine that is the U.S. commercial measurement system. It is also a good time to reflect on how the ever-evolving commercial marketplace drives the need for continual changes in that system. 

Many may think that, aside from the occasional redefinition, the standard units of measure are more or less fixed and there is relatively little need to change. 

Not so! 

Certainly ensuring uniformity and making sure that the chain of measurements from their ultimate realizations all the way down to the consumer level is unbroken and as accurate as possible is a large part of what the whole weights and measures system is about. But, as new products and services come on the market, supporting measurement standards and practices need to be put in place to help ensure that people know what they’re getting and for how much and to ensure that businesses selling those products and services are able to fairly compete. 

To recognize this, the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) has made this year’s Weights and Measures Week theme “On the Path to Tomorrow.” NCWM is a professional nonprofit association of state and local weights and measures officials, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers that develops model codes that states use as a template for new weights and measures-related laws. 

“During the 110-year history of the NCWM, we have seen a number of advancements, from mechanical devices to highly sophisticated software-based weighing and measuring instruments and now apps used on smart phones,” NCWM Chairman Ronald Hayes said in a press release. 

With technical guidance from NIST, the NCWM is working to help pave the regulatory path forward for startup companies like Uber and Lyft that are using GPS to calculate passenger transport fares, alongside more conventional methods of measurement. Once complete, the model regulations for these systems will be included in NIST Handbook 44 so that states can adopt them, in whole or in part, into their regulatory structure.

An Important New Tool in our Data Revolution

Commerce Data Advisory Council banner

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Today we have reached an important milestone in the data transformation movement with the naming of members to Commerce Department’s new Data Advisory Council (CDAC).  The 19 leaders we have selected will help guide the Department in revolutionizing our approach toward data optimization and usability. They are bright stars in private and public sectors: thought leaders on data; respected and well-equipped to facilitate this transformation. Members’ expertise mirrors the spectrum of Commerce data -- demographic, economic, scientific, environmental, patent, and geospatial.  Their agenda?  To help us foster innovation, create jobs, and drive better decision-making throughout our economy and society. Their first meeting will take place April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Selecting from an impressive and wide array of experience, innovation, education and talent was not an easy task.  The individuals we have chosen are extraordinary for a host of reasons evident in their positions and achievements.  But perhaps one of the most compelling traits they share is keen awareness that success is built upon the ability to listen to a chorus of voices representing a range of viewpoints. 

Click here for CDAC members bios.

We are thrilled to have reached this important marker in our “data revolution” and look forward to the CDAC’s guidance on such key issues as data management; open data standards; public-private partnership; and ensuring a user-driven process.

How EDA Helps Create Conditions for Economic Success

How EDA Helps Create Conditions for Economic Success

Guest blog post Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams

A successful harvest depends on the soil, the temperature, and the amount of water the crops receive. Putting together a winning sports team requires talented athletes, strategic coaches, and team members who can work together toward a common goal. Building a successful, resilient economy in a given region or community also requires having the right conditions in place. It’s about having the appropriate infrastructure, supply chains, access to capital, engaged stakeholders, an appropriately trained workforce, and an understanding of the unique assets of the area. Creating those conditions is the core of economic development.

I like to tell people that Washington, D.C. is where I live; Youngstown, Ohio is my home. I understand economic distress on a very personal level, and I understand the importance of the sort of work that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) does each and every day. In fact, I worked closely with EDA during my tenure as Mayor of Youngstown, and I saw first-hand how the agency was able to help us implement our plans to transform our economy. Today, Youngstown is experiencing a renaissance, a renewal beyond what most would have thought possible.  The same thing is happening in towns all across the country, and I am looking forward to taking the lessons I learned in Youngstown and applying them to help other communities.

EDA is a small agency by federal government standards, but it has a critical mission and makes a big impact. We work with communities to implement their locally owned strategies to strengthen their economies and create jobs by building capacity. Some communities need help developing a plan and figuring out where to start their efforts. Others need critical infrastructure that will allow business to locate or expand operations. It’s a continuum, and EDA helps communities at every point along the way. Through our various grant programs, EDA funds communities across America to help strengthen their economies. We also have developed a variety of tools on new and emerging economic development concepts that communities and economic development organizations can use to make more informed development decisions. In short, EDA helps to create the conditions in which private investment is generated and jobs are created.

There are numerous examples of successful EDA grantees across the country – communities that were crippled by high unemployment or low GDP, but with solid development plans and assistance from EDA have become booming centers of business and innovation. They include towns as diverse as Conover, North Carolina; Brighton, Colorado; Petersburg, Virginia; Rochelle, Illinois; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Fairbanks, Alaska.  As the country continues to recover from the great recession, economic development work is more crucial than ever to the long-term health of the country’s economy.