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In Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker Meets with Government Officials, Business Leaders, and Entrepreneurs to Discuss Ways to Improve Economic Opportunity

To demonstrate the United States’ commitment to Tunisia’s transition to democracy, and to underscore the reforms needed to attract investment, generate economic growth, and create jobs in the country, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led a delegation to Tunisia this week. In addition to offering a keynote address at the Investment and Entrepreneurship Conference, hosted by the Partnership for New Beginnings and the American Chamber of Commerce in Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker met with Tunisian government officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the country’s economy.

In a meeting with representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce in Tunisia, Secretary Pritzker received input on the country’s current business environment and discussed potential opportunities for U.S. firms in the market. For example, Tunisia’s location on the coast can make it an ideal hub for operations in the Middle East and Africa. Others spoke about the opportunities in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, specifically.

About 70 American firms operate in Tunisia right now, but there is substantial room for that figure to grow should Tunisia make certain economic reforms that will create a more inviting business climate. Some of these reforms include streamlining the investment code, restructuring the banking sector, creating a more transparent, reliable, and modern tax and customs structure, and developing a strong public-private partnerships law that increases transparency and predictability for domestic and foreign firms.

DOC Operating Status for March 5, 2015

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This message applies to Thursday, March 5, 2015

In accordance with the Office of Personnel Management’s Operating Status, Department of Commerce offices in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED.  Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their bureau/operating unit’s policies, including written telework agreements.

Non-emergency employees will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:

  • required to telework,
  • on official travel outside of the Washington, DC area,
  • on pre-approved leave (including leave without pay), or
  • on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.

Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their bureau/operating unit’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their bureau/operating unit.

More information and details on Operating Status can be viewed online at http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/current-status/,

Personnel may also contact the DOC Status Line at 202-482-7400 for recorded updates regarding changes in the Department of Commerce’s operating status.

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.