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Blog Entries from 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

Secretary Bryson Hosts Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee and Export Promotion Cabinet

Bryson and participants seated at conference table

Meeting follows establishment of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center through Presidential Executive Order signed today

Commerce Secretary John Bryson today hosted a joint meeting of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) and the Export Promotion Cabinet (EPC) to discuss strategic priorities for promoting trade and U.S. exports and receive input on new initiatives. Secretary Bryson was joined by officials from the Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, National Security Council, and Departments of Agriculture, State, and Treasury, among other agencies.

The TPCC and EPC support the president’s overall economic agenda by helping U.S. companies export globally and create jobs locally. The TPCC is composed of 20 federal government agencies and chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. The EPC was established to coordinate the development and implementation of the National Export Initiative (NEI) along with the TPCC, helping to meet the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.  

During the meeting, which was his first as Commerce Secretary, Bryson highlighted the progress with NEI and the need to strengthen efforts to continue to increase U.S. exports. In 2011, the U.S. exported over $2.1 trillion in goods and services, the highest on record and the first time in history that America has crossed the $2 trillion threshold. Despite the positive signs of economic recovery, the president has made clear that lasting economic growth requires leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses and making sure they are able to compete successfully in global markets.

Spotlight on Commerce: Tyra Dent Smith, Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management

Photo: Tyra Dent Smith

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As a native Washingtonian, and having earned a B.A in Psychology from Hampton Institute and a Master of Public Administration from Howard University, I knew early on that I wanted my life work to center around individual and organizational success. To this end, I decided to dedicate my career to public service. Over twenty years of my career has been spent in the Department of Commerce.

Since February 2011, I have had the privilege to serve as Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM). My primary responsibility is to lead and direct the development and implementation of government-wide and departmental policies, employee programs and activities in all aspects of human resources management and administration. Additionally, this includes coordinating and overseeing HR operations at each of the department's seven bureau level HR service centers. This role has given me an opportunity to serve the department’s workforce at each stage of the employee lifecycle (planning, recruitment, hiring, training and development, retention and retirement/separation).

In partnership with the Director of OHRM, William “Bill” Fleming, our vision is to deliver optimal HR services and products that support and enable mission accomplishment and create a workplace environment that fosters excellence and innovation. This vision is rooted in the policies, processes and practices that support and sustain a strong and capable organizational workforce built to serve the American people.

Spotlight on Commerce: Dr. James Turner, Director of the Office of International Affairs

Dr. James Turner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Affairs and Director of NOAA Office of International Affairs

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am a native of Washington, DC and had the benefit of growing up in a home with loving parents who stressed family, integrity, achievement, service, and education.The values I learned at home were reinforced by those I was taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga High School.  This strong foundation led me to receive degrees in Physics from MIT (Ph.D.) and Johns Hopkins (B.A.). 

Physics is simultaneously empowering and humbling.  It is empowering in the knowledge and understanding that helps others and humbling in that often the more we learn the more we realize we do not know.  When I was in school, it was disturbing that so few minorities and women were considering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career fields.  So, after finishing at MIT, I applied for positions at universities in Africa and at Historically Black Colleges in the U.S.  My first two positions were on the Physics Faculties at Southern University (Baton Rouge) and Morehouse College.  I am very proud that, among the students I taught while at Morehouse, two are now NOAA scientists.

India Notes: New Partnerships Equals New Opportunities

Under Secretary Sánchez with inauguration participants

Guest blog post by Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

There are amazing opportunities available to U.S. businesses in India.

That’s one of the main takeaways of my successful week-long trade mission focusing on Indian port infrastructure. Case in point: the two-way trade between India and the U.S. grew to $58 billion in 2011, and this upward trend is expected to continue in 2012.

The ports trade mission that we just concluded today–a first of its kind in India–was especially successful. Representatives from 12 U.S. organizations joined me on the trip, where we visited three different cities to facilitate as many partnerships as possible. The trade mission participants included dredging companies, port security companies, scanning technology providers, infrastructure, and transportation and logistics companies. With them the Ports of Baltimore and San Diego also joined to partner with companies and ports in India.

Spotlight on Commerce: Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Michael Phelps, Director of the Office of Budget

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am currently Director of the Office of Budget at the Department of Commerce. That means I am the principal adviser to the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration and other Department officials on all things related to the planning, formulation, execution and defense of the Department’s budget.

I understand that not everyone is a numbers person, but I love this position because of public debates associated with supporting the president’s agenda and, more important, the roles and mission this Department plays in executing those objectives in helping to create an America built to last!

My entire professional career has been in public service. Prior to joining Commerce in March of 2011, I served 33 years in the United States Air Force. My last assignment was Director of Financial Management and Comptroller for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. As Chief Financial Officer for the largest operational command in the Air Force and the principal financial adviser to the Air Combat Command Commander, I led a 67-person financial management staff that supported a financial network of more than 1,100 people supporting 25 air wings, 1,100 aircraft and approximately 105,000 personnel. I retired from active duty as a colonel in February of 2011 and was given an opportunity to continue my service to the nation here at the Department of Commerce.

Secretary Bryson Encourages State Governors to Use SelectUSA and Attend SelectUSA Investment Summit

SelectUSA logo

Prior to President Obama attending the Democratic Governors Association Meeting, Secretary John Bryson addressed the assembled governors to discuss how the Commerce Department is working across the federal government to make every federal tool available to promote “insourcing” by U.S. companies and to attract more foreign direct investment.

Secretary Bryson reiterated the key advantages America has over foreign competitors. For example, the American workforce is among the most productive in the world. He also discussed how America continues to have the best universities, the strongest sources of R&D and manufacturing innovation, excellent supply chains, and the strongest IP protections.  He also noted that foreign direct investment rose nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Bryson then emphasized that through SelectUSA, the Commerce Department wants to partner with more states to attract even more foreign direct investment to the U.S. SelectUSA is the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investments in the U.S. It will help investors navigate our rules and procedures and will help advocate for the U.S. when foreign businesses are deciding where to put their next facility and create jobs.

SelectUSA is already working with some city and state economic development organizations to produce results. Bryson personally invited the governors and their top economic officials to attend the 1st annual SelectUSA Investment Summit later this year. The Commerce Department will assemble companies from around the world and it will provide an excellent opportunity for states to explain why they are the best place to invest and to hire.