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Blog Entries from November 2, 2011

Assistant Secretary Suresh Kumar Blogs on 30th Anniversary DEC Conference

District Export Council Conference logo

Guest blog post by Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar

I’m proud to be speaking at the 30th District Export Council Conference (DEC), in Las Vegas, Nevada.  We have more than 40 DECs represented from across the country at the conference this year.  The DECs are comprised of business leaders from around the country who are nominated by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service (often in consultation with other DEC members and local partner organizations) and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.  The DECs provide guidance and mentoring to U.S. businesses looking to export, and work closely with the U.S. Commercial Service, referring these businesses to our network of U.S. Export Assistance Centers.   By supporting firms in their local communities which are looking to progress from their first international business plan to their first export sale, DEC members empower the U.S. Commercial Service in our mission of broadening and deepening the U.S. exporter base. 

Nationwide, there are 59 DECs which include the expertise of 1500 exporters and export service providers throughout the United States, who volunteer their time to promote numerous trade related activities.  DECs also create seminars that make trade finance both understandable and accessible to small exporters, host international buyer delegations, design breakthrough guides to help firms export, put exporters on the Internet and help build export assistance partnerships to strengthen the support given to local businesses interested in exporting.  As such, the DECs are critical to our effort in promoting our country's economic growth and supporting new and higher-paying jobs for their communities.

USPTO: Boosting Small Business with the New Patent Law

The president signing the bill

When President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law six weeks ago, he did more than just implement the largest patent reform since 1836. The AIA aims to help small business secure patent protection for their inventions in a variety of ways. The Act offers not only favorable legal provisions, but also establishes studies and programs to further investigate how Congress may assist small businesses in the future. The provisions in the AIA help simplify the patent law, promote the disclosure of inventions, and establish procedures to remove bad patents from the intellectual property (IP) system early.

By introducing provisions that speed the patent application process and enhance the quality review of patent applications, the AIA enables applicants to secure an examination of an application in one-third the regular time from an average of 3 years to an average of 12 months. Additional provisions will provide an avenue that small businesses may use to challenge bad patents and receive a decision within 12 months. This changes the current practice where decisions on patent validity are determined through district court litigation and may take several years at significantly greater expense.

ESA: Tough Economic Times Continue for State and Local Governments

State and Local Government Expenditures and Employment

Cross post by Commerce Chief Economist Mark Doms

Last week’s gross domestic product (GDP) report confirmed that our economy continues to grow (2.5 percent in the third quarter), although not as quickly as we would like. The fears of a “double dip” recession didn’t come to pass (if anyone in the DC area is interested in a triple dip, head to Ben and Jerry’s from 4 to 7 for their 3-dips-for-3-bucks special.).  One reason why the economy isn’t growing faster is that budget constraints are forcing continued and historically deep contractions in state and local government spending.  Measures within the American Jobs Act can help bridge the gap.

These cuts in state and local government spending are evident in the GDP data and also in the employment data (the October payroll data will be released this Friday).  State and local spending and investment decreased 5.3 percent in real terms since spending peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, by far the deepest 15-quarter decline in spending in the post-WWII era.  Job losses that have followed from these budget cuts total 646,000, or 3.3 percent, since state and local employment peaked in August 2008. 

So far this year state and local governments have been cutting jobs at the same pace that private sector firms are adding them.  Over the first 9 months of the year, private payroll employment has grown 1.2 percent (1.3 million jobs) while employment in state and local governments declined by 1.2 percent (234,000 jobs). 

NIST Releases Draft Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap for Comments

VanRoekel on podium

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released for public comment a draft "roadmap" that is designed to foster federal agencies' adoption of cloud computing, support the private sector, improve the information available to decision makers and facilitate the continued development of the cloud computing model.

In February 2011, the government issued the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy that describes cloud computing as a "profound economic and technical shift (with) great potential to reduce the cost of Federal Information Technology (IT) systems while. . . improving IT capabilities and stimulating innovation in IT solutions."

As part of that strategy, NIST has been assigned "a central [role] in defining and advancing standards, and collaborating with U.S. government agency CIOs, private-sector experts and international bodies to identify and reach consensus on cloud computing technology and standardization priorities." U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Release 1.0 is designed to support the secure and effective adoption of the cloud computing model by federal agencies to reduce costs and improve services. The public comment period is open through Dec. 2.  Read the full NIST release