Rebecca M. Blank is the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. She became Acting Secretary in June 2012 and she continues to perform the duties of Secretary.
Dr. Blank was confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce in March 2012, after serving as the Acting Deputy Secretary since November 2010. In addition, she served as Acting Secretary from August through October of 2011.
Dr. Blank is a key member of President Obama’s economic team working to implement the administration’s top economic priorities to increase economic growth and accelerate job creation. Dr. Blank leads the Department’s efforts to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, helping make American businesses more innovative and successful at home and more competitive abroad, and to create good-paying jobs. In her role as Deputy Secretary, Dr. Blank also functions as Commerce’s chief operating officer, overseeing issues of management, policy and strategic planning for the department’s 12 bureaus.
Dr. Blank has served in the Department of Commerce since June 2009, when she was appointed as the principal economic adviser to the Secretary in the role of Under Secretary for Economic Affairs and head of the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA). ESA oversees the two premier statistical agencies in the United States, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While at ESA, Dr. Blank played an important role overseeing a decennial Census operation that completed its work on time and under budget, netting $1.6 billion in 2010 savings. Within ESA, she supervised a staff of economists and policy analysts who produced a wide variety of reports and analyses that focused on economic and social trends, and the impact of various policy proposals.
Prior to arriving at Commerce, Dr. Blank was the Robert S. Kerr Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan (UM), where she implemented a major expansion of its faculty and programs. She also served as co-director of UM’s National Poverty Center. From 1997-1999, Dr. Blank was one of three members of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, participating in White House decision-making on a host of economic, social and regulatory policy issues.
Prior to her work with the Clinton administration, she was a Professor of Economics at Northwestern University and Director of the Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research. The author of numerous books and articles, Dr. Blank has researched extensively the interactions of the macro economy, government social policy programs, and the behavior and well-being of families.
Dr. Blank is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, and a Lifetime Associate at the National Academies of Science. She has served in a wide variety of advisory and professional roles, including service on the Boards of Directors of MDRC, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Urban Institute. She was a long-time faculty affiliate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, vice president of the American Economic Association, and president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. In May 2010, Dr. Blank was inducted as an Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow by the American Academy of Political and Social Science in recognition of her distinguished scholarship in the social sciences.
A native of Missouri, Dr. Blank is a summa cum laude graduate in economics from the University of Minnesota and holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.