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Blog Entries from March 2012

Secretary Bryson Delivers Remarks at National Congress of American Indians

Secretary Bryson delivering remarks from dais

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at 2012 Executive Council Winter Session of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national representative of Tribal Nations in the United States. Bryson spoke about Commerce Department initiatives to promote exports, job creation and infrastructure in Indian Country.
 
This administration is proud to partner with NCAI in the effort to forge new links between government and Indian country on behalf of Native American communities. At the Commerce Department, we have a host of programs where Commerce and Native American communities are working together to bring jobs and opportunities to Indian country:

  • The Minority Business Development Agency helps Native American-owned companies in growing their businesses. Over the past several decades, MBDA has worked with approximately 80 percent of the tribes and assisted over 25,000 Indian enterprises.
  • The Commerce Department has the lead federal role in implementing the President’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double exports by Native Americans and all U.S. companies by the end of 2014. For example, we have partnered with the University of Washington to develop the global marketing capacity of Native American tribes with a focus on tribal forest operations. 
  • The Commerce Department is a lead agency in promoting the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an unprecedented initiative to spur economic growth through public-private partnerships. The United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota will receive $1.6 million grant over four years to implement the Upper Missouri Tribal Environment Risk Mitigation cluster, which includes about 20 tribes. The funds will be used to provide training and education for about 1,000 people, support over 100 environmental technician jobs, and create about 15 new businesses. 
  • Through our broadband grants investment program, we are working to increase access to high-speed Internet in Native American communities. Commerce awarded grants to five tribal authorities for infrastructure and public computer center projects, a subset of the more than 60 broadband projects that will directly benefit tribal communities. This includes funding to deploy broadband infrastructure in the Navajo Nation, in an area covering 15,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, where many residents lack even basic telephone service.
  • As part of the 2010 Census, the “Indian Country Counts Census Campaign” helped educate American Indians and Alaska Natives on the importance of returning their census forms. Overall, 5.2 million people, or 1.7 percent of the U.S. population, identified themselves as American Indian and Alaska Native. This was 27 percent increase in tribal population over 2000.

We know that the federal government doesn’t have all the answers. But we also know that by working with people on the front lines, we can help identify what works and build on that.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Privacy

Today, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

 In February, the Obama administration unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” as part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth. The president’s report called on the Commerce Department’s NTIA to begin convening companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop and implement enforceable privacy policies based on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

NTIA is now moving forward and seeking public input on what issues should be addressed through the privacy multistakeholder process and how to structure these discussions so they are open, transparent, and most productive. Today, NTIA issued a formal request for comment (PDF). The comment period will remain open until March 26, 2012.

As NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling illustrated last week, we hope to receive meaningful suggestions and input from a range privacy stakeholders.  Their continued involvement will be key for the future of consumer protection and we need your help to make it a success.

The report, “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,” (PDF) resulted from a comprehensive review of Internet privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy lead by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Swears In Nine New Patent Judges to Help Reduce Patent Backlogs

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Delivers Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony for New Patent Judges

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

As part of our ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, this afternoon I had the honor of swearing in nine new administrative patent judges who will help reduce patent backlogs. These nine talented and dynamic individuals will serve on the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), joining the dedicated public servants at USPTO who support millions of jobs in the intellectual property industry.

Today, a high share of companies regularly relying on robust intellectual property (IP) protections to attract investor capital and stay competitive. These IP-intensive firms create an average of three million U.S. jobs per year. More than ever, we must be efficient and effective in helping entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property.

America’s entrepreneurs are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Entrepreneurs provide us with better production processes, new advances in health, and improved consumer products. These are people who can move from ideas to products and from products to the marketplace. These activities strengthen our economy and our global competitiveness. And they create jobs.

March 1: Anniversary of Census Act of 1790

Relief by James Earle Fraser on Department of Commerce headquarters

Today is the anniversary of Congress passing the Census Act of 1790. President George Washington signed the law, which authorized the collection of population data by U.S. Marshals. Although the act included the specific inquiries marshals asked at each home they visited, they did not receive printed forms on which to record the data. Marshals used their own paper and designed their own forms—a practice followed until the U.S. government began supplying printed census schedules in 1830.

Census Day was on the first Monday in August 1790 and was conducted under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson. Today, the law requires that the census be conducted on or about April 1, and every ten years after that. The most recent decennial census was conducted in 2010, on time and under budget. The Census Bureau is part of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration. The image here is a limestone relief by James Earle Fraser, one of many panels adorning the Department of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the first, 1790 Census, visit Census 1790 Overview and 'Pop' Culture: 1790 Census Facts