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Blog Category: Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank

Emphasizing Efforts to Improve Manufacturing Competitiveness

Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank listens to members of the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Yesterday, I spoke to the Council on Competitiveness Executive Board about how the Commerce Department, working with the National Economic Council, leads the administration’s efforts across the federal government to promote a vibrant manufacturing sector in the United States.

Manufacturing is vitally important to supporting an economy that is built to last. Manufacturing accounts for 90 percent of our patents, 70 percent of private sector R&D and 60 percent of our exports–including a record $1.3 trillion in goods exported last year. The manufacturing sector has grown strongly over the past two years. After decades of losing manufacturing jobs, the manufacturing sector has been adding jobs for over two years. In the past 25 months manufacturing has added nearly a half million new jobs and 120,000 of those came in the first three months of this year. Importantly, these tend to be high-paying jobs with good benefits.

Even with these improvements in the manufacturing sector, there is much more work to do to ensure America remains competitive. The Department of Commerce recently released a report, “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States,” that discusses some of the challenges the U.S. faces in retaining its global leadership, particularly in manufacturing, and lays out a policy agenda to address these challenges.

Commerce has long worked on this issue through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports centers in every state that consult with companies facing technological problems and puts them in touch with scientists and engineers who can help solve those problems. For every dollar of federal investment, the MEP generates around $30 in new sales growth. This translates into $3.6 billion in new sales annually.

Some of the more recent efforts within the Commerce Department to build a policy environment in which manufacturing can flourish include:

Deputy Secretary Blank Keynotes Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour

on podium, Deputy Secretary Blank keynotes Operation HOPE

Today, Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour ceremony in Los Angeles, California. She emphasized the importance of economic development and opportunity in the years following the Rodney King riots.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Operation Hope $200,000 to help bring more economic opportunities to a hard-hit area of Los Angeles. Since then, Operation HOPE has helped bring more investments, more economic opportunity, and more empowerment into underserved communities in Los Angeles as well as other cities around the U.S.

Deputy Secretary Blank also highlighted how the Recovery Act that President Obama signed in 2009 allowed the Commerce Department to provide $7.5 million dollars to the City of Los Angeles to install high-speed broadband connections and to place thousands of new computers at about 150 sites. As a result, about 130,000 people are using those computers every week–from students doing homework to unemployed workers applying for job.

She also emphasized the importance of access to education and mentoring for young people throughout the U.S. In particular, she called for preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling on over seven million students on July 1.

As an economist, the Deputy Secretary’s past work had focused on how America can address economic inequalities such as promoting more education, opportunities and jobs in underserved communities.

Earth Day 2012: Commerce Saves Trees—and Money—by Cutting Down on Printing

Image of grass, ferns and a tree

Guest blog post by Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank

Earth Day is here, and Commerce is seeing the positive results of its year-long campaign to “go green” and drive down costs in print. Just this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce’s largest bureau, announced it has removed over one-third of its desktop printers, bringing total savings from the Commerce print project to $4.7 million per year.

Commerce spends $25 million annually on print–which includes equipment, paper, toner, energy and services. Last year we took a look at where that money was going and found that:

  • Commerce printed 250 million pages on its networked printers.
  • Nearly all of those pages were printed single-sided, and a quarter were printed in color. 
  • We also had a high ratio of employees-to-desktop printers, which use more toner and are more expensive than shared printers.  
  • And we realized we had 350 contracts and 400 vendors, with very little centralized ordering.

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaks on the Role of Innovation in the U.S. Economy

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks on innovation at National Press Club

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank 

This afternoon, I had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation. 

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs. 

Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

Today, the U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, our report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive” industries support more than a quarter of all jobs in the United States. Twenty-seven million of those are either on payroll or under employment contracts, working directly for the IP-intensive industries, and nearly 13 million more are indirectly supported through the supply chains that service these industries. In other words, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional job elsewhere in the economy. 

Census Director Robert Groves to Leave the Commerce Department This Fall

Secretary Locke, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Census Director Groves Stand Before the Official Population of the United States (April 1, 2010)

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves has been an exceptional and dedicated leader. Over the past several years, Dr. Groves has done outstanding work to transform and modernize the Census Bureau. So our announcement today is bittersweet: Dr. Groves is resigning as Director of the Census Bureau in August to become the provost of Georgetown University. This is a significant and highly deserved honor for him–and a major capstone to his notable academic career. 

Dr. Groves has led the Census Bureau for almost three years. During that time, his remarkable leadership of the 2010 Census resulted in a historic, successful operation that was completed on time and $1.9 billion under budget. Dr. Groves helped shape a strategy for planning a more cost-efficient 2020 Census and launched an employee-led operational efficiency program that saved millions of additional taxpayer dollars. He also led a formal reorganization of the Census Bureau, reestablishing the research directorate to spur technical innovation. With the implementation of a corporate hiring and job rotation program, Dr. Groves has worked to expand the breadth of skills among Census staff to effectively lead the Bureau into the 21st century.

Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Highlights Administration’s Gender Equality Efforts on Trip to Switzerland

Blank speaking from podium

Guest blog post by Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

It is tradition in March to celebrate Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the changing role of women in society and their social, economic and political achievements. From the ballot box to the boardroom, today’s American women have paved the way for future generations by overcoming obstacles on their path to equality and empowerment.

It was with this message that President Obama commemorated March Women’s History Month last week, saying, “We cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society.”

The Obama administration is dedicated to helping blaze this trail. This week, I had the opportunity to speak about the administration’s work to support women–and particularly the evolving economic role of women in American society–during a visit to Bern, Switzerland.

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.

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces Computer Contract Expected to Save Taxpayers $20-25M

As the president said when he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June 2011, “No amount of waste is acceptable, not when it’s your money. Just as families are living within their means, government should, too, so we can invest in the things that we know will create good jobs and grow the economy.” As part of those ongoing efforts to make government more accountable to the American people and cut wasteful spending, I am happy to report today that the Commerce Department has awarded a contract for computers that is expected to save taxpayers $20-25 million over the next five years.

Through the contract with Intelligent Decisions Inc., we will reduce our cost for desktops and laptops by 40 percent. The contract leverages the large volume of computers that Commerce purchases each year and standardizes specifications to achieve significant cost reductions. Making wise spending decisions like this will enable Commerce to focus resources on its primary mission, which is supporting innovation, helping American businesses create jobs, and driving U.S. competitiveness around the world.

Intelligent Decisions Inc., is a small business reseller offering products manufactured by Dell Inc. By awarding this contract to a small business, the Commerce Department will increase its small business participation for computer purchases by over thirty percent. Intelligent Decisions Inc.  will be providing valuable services to Commerce, including helping to better monitor its inventory of computers, improving delivery time, and loading custom images onto computers.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits the Port of Savannah

Senator Johnny Isakson, GPA Board Chairman Alec Poitevint, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank, Senator Saxby Chambliss

Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Savannah, Ga. yesterday, where she received a briefing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) and toured the Port of Savannah with U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and representatives from the Georgia Ports Authority. Following the tour, Blank delivered remarks on the importance of projects like SHEP, an efficient, high-tech export engine that will help U.S. businesses compete globally, as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI).

Expanding America’s ports means expanding America’s exports. And more exports mean more jobs. Exports already support nearly 10 million U.S. jobs, including one in three manufacturing jobs, and positions supported by exports pay about 15 percent more on average.

The president launched the NEI in 2009 with the goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, supporting several million jobs. U.S. exports increased 14.5 percent in 2011 to a record $2.1 trillion. That’s the second year of double-digit growth, ahead of schedule to achieve the goal of NEI.