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Blog Entries from October 2013

Secretary Pritzker meets with business leaders in New York City

Secretary Pritzker and her Chief of Staff, Bruce Andrews, Meet with Mayor Bloomberg in his City Hall Office

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to New York City for a series of events and meetings with business leaders from a variety of sectors. The trip also included a meeting with New York City Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall “bullpen.”

The Secretary’s first stop was to a give remarks at the Association for Better New York, a leading organization of business leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life for those that live and work in New York City and for those that visit. In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed her message that America is “Open for Business” and the work that the Obama Administration and the Commerce Department are doing to help grow the economy and create jobs.

Next, Secretary Pritzker met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his City Hall office. The discussion focused on ways to improve skills training efforts, spur infrastructure, immigration reform, cities as key drivers of growth, and ways the Commerce Department and the City are collaborating to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

Finally, the Secretary participated in the fall dinner of G100, a private peer-learning community of current, future and recent chief executives of global companies. Secretary Pritzker talked about ways to create jobs, economic growth, immigration reform, and the need for putting an end to the manufactured crises in Washington.

Celebrating National Seafood Month

fish, salmon, and shrimp in a display case

Hey, seafood lovers—did you know it’s National Seafood Month? The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood, supporting an industry with 1.2 million jobs nationwide and adding $55 billion of value to the nation’s GDP in 2011 (Fisheries Economics of the U.S.). To celebrate, NOAA Fisheries is publishing great seafood stories, including science features, culinary Q&As, and seafood videos and podcasts.

Ensuring that both present and future generations can enjoy the benefits of sustainable seafood is a core responsibility of the Department of Commerce through NOAA Fisheries. From Alaska to Maine, U.S. seafood is responsibly harvested under a strong monitoring, management, and enforcement program that works to keep the marine environment healthy, fish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

Responsibly harvested seafood starts with sound science, and at the heart of fisheries science is the stock assessment. We break it down for you in this animated video—the ABC’s of stock assessments.

Sound science makes effective management possible. Since 2000, 34 overfished stocks have been rebuilt, including the most recent—the southern stock of black sea bass.

NIST Releases Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework, Will Seek Comments

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today released its Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework to help critical infrastructure owners and operators reduce cybersecurity risks in industries such as power generation, transportation and telecommunications. In the coming days, NIST will open a 45-day public comment period on the Preliminary Framework and plans to release the official framework in February 2014, as called for in Executive Order 13636—Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

In February 2013, President Obama directed NIST to work with stakeholders to develop a voluntary framework for reducing cyber risks, recognizing that U.S. national and economic security depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure. Through a request for information and a series of workshops held throughout 2013, NIST engaged with more than 3,000 individuals and organizations on standards, best practices and guidelines that can provide businesses, their suppliers, their customers and government agencies with a shared set of expected protections for critical information and IT infrastructure. 

The Preliminary Framework outlines a set of steps that can be customized to various sectors and adapted by both large and small organizations while providing a consistent approach to cybersecurity. It offers a common language and mechanism for organizations to determine and describe their current cybersecurity posture, as well as their target state for cybersecurity. The framework will help them to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement within the context of risk management and to assess progress toward their goals. 

Obama Administration Awards $20.5 Million In Make It In America Challenge Grants

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, today announced the 10 winners of the Make it in America Challenge, an Obama administration initiative to accelerate job creation and encourage business investment in the United States. The 10 grantees will receive a total of $20.5 million for projects supporting regional economic development, advanced skills training, greater supply chain access and other enhancements. The programs are designed to encourage U.S. companies to keep, expand or re-shore their manufacturing operations—and jobs—in America, and to entice foreign companies to build facilities and make their products here.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Labor Department’sEmployment and Training Administration (ETA), and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) are providing funding for the winning proposals. Additionally, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) plans to make awards in early FY2014.

“Given our competitive advantages in energy costs, research and development, labor productivity, and intellectual property protection, there is no better place to do business than the United States," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The Make it in America Challenge grants support innovative, regionally-based strategies that will encourage businesses to capitalize on those advantages.”  Full release

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses Tackling the Skills Gap

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling with members of the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships

Millions of jobs have been created in the years since the recession ended, but many Americans are still out of work. In fact, there are about 4 million job openings right now, and yet about 4 million Americans have been job-searching more than 6 months. Many employers simply cannot find workers with the skills necessary to do the jobs available.

Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) is working to address the skills mis-match by creating sector partnerships that align employers’ hiring needs with local and regional training systems.  Yesterday, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to speak to BLU about what the Administration is doing to invest in workforce skills training and to hear about ways employers are proactively developing partnerships to create a pipeline of skilled workers in their local areas.

Business leaders cited how their initiative, investments, and partnerships with local community colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, non-profits, and each other industry peers and others have reduced nursing shortages in Louisville; helped the long-term unemployed train for and gain employment in the financial services industry in southern California; and developed an electrical contracting apprenticeship program with 100% job placement in Tennessee. An export-oriented metal forming manufacturer in Minnesota described how he has worked with local community and technical colleges to create certificate programs to develop the skilled workforce the company needs.  

International Trade Administration Streamlines its Business Divisions to Help Companies More Efficiently and Effectively

International Trade Administration Seal

The International Trade Administration (ITA) for the first time in 30 years has fully implemented its first major organizational change.  The change will better align key functions to support U.S. businesses and their workers more efficiently and effectively. The change reflects ITA’s adaptation to the evolution of global markets, technology, and competition.

ITA’s reorganization consolidates its four business divisions into three more efficient and functionally aligned units.  The new units are Global Markets, Industry and Analysis, and Enforcement and Compliance.

The Global Markets unit combines ITA’s country and regional experts, overseas and domestic field staff, and specific trade promotion programs. The unit, which provides U.S. firms with the full suite of country-specific export promotion services and market access advocacy, also promotes the United States as an investment destination.

The Industry and Analysis (I&A) unit brings together ITA’s industry, trade, and economic experts to advance the competitiveness of U.S. industries through the development and execution of international trade and investment policies and promotion strategies. I&A will leverage ITA’s relationships with manufacturing and services industries to increase U.S. exports.

The Enforcement and Compliance unit enhances ITA’s responsibilities to enforce U.S. trade laws and ensure compliance with trade agreements negotiated on behalf of U.S. industry.

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration