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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Visits MBDA Team

Secretary Penny Pritzker Stands with the MBDA Leadership Team Outside Their Offices

Crossposted from MBDA.gov.

Newly appointed Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) employees during their staff meeting Monday.

During the visit, Secretary Pritzker talked to MBDA staff about her commitment to supporting the Agency’s mission of helping minority-owned businesses grow and create American jobs.

The secretary, who was familiar with MBDA’s work prior to joining Commerce, commended the agency on their recent annual performance report, and told employees that she looks forward to working with them to further the department’s mission.

During her recent address to the Commerce workforce, Secretary Pritzker emphasized she would work every day – 24/7 – to ensure that everyone in Washington, DC, across the country and around the world knows the great work agencies and employees are doing.

MBDA National Director David Hinson, speaking on behalf of the MBDA team, said that he was thrilled the secretary took time to visit the agency’s employees so early in her tenure, adding that the visit is an example of her commitment to employees, businesses and the nation’s economy.

MBDA is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. Our programs and services equip minority-owned firms to create jobs, build scale and capacity, increase revenues and expand regionally, nationally and internationally. Services are provided through a nationwide network of MBDA Business Centers, as well as through MBDA headquarters and a National Federal Procurement Center in Washington, DC.

Proposed Cuts Hurt Job Creation, Economy, and the Middle-Class

The President has been clear that Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to finish a budget that cuts wasteful spending while investing in jobs, the economy, and middle class families. Until Congress reaches a budget agreement, the President will not sign individual appropriations bills that simply attempt to enact the House Republican budget into law. That would hurt our economy and make draconian cuts to middle class priorities.

The House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill demonstrates just how damaging the overall spending limits imposed by House Republican leadership are. The bill would cut $1 billion from the President’s request for the Department of Commerce, requiring a halt to investments in areas designed to help grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. The bill cuts more than $70 million from the International Trade Administration, which prevents placement of Foreign Commercial Service Officers in priority markets to help U.S. companies expand exports. That cut also limits our ability to attract foreign investment.  Instead of building on the momentum of resurgent American manufacturing as the President did in this budget, the bill terminates the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia, which is helping the industry identify long-term manufacturing needs, and it cuts $33 million from the President’s request for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The MEP program is a federal-state partnership, which consists of centers located across the country that work directly with their local manufacturing communities to strengthen the competitiveness of our nation's domestic manufacturing base.

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Employees at Census Bureau Headquarters

Secretary Penny Pritzker thanking Acting Director of the U.S. Census Bureau Tom Mesenbourg for his 41 years of service

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

As an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I have first-hand experience with the data, information, services and resources the Commerce Department provides.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet the people who produce the data used by communities and businesses across the country. At the Census Bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Maryland, I saw how statisticians, demographers, economists, information technology experts and other highly-skilled staff are working together to meet the rising demand for economic and demographic data.

As I experienced personally, the timely, high-quality statistics from the Census Bureau give entrepreneurs and business executives the tools they need to make major investment decisions. The broad menu of data delivered by Census and other Commerce Department bureaus also provides officials at all levels of government with the most reliable basis for decisions, such as where to build a school, highway or a factory, and where to find export markets and small business opportunities.

There was an additional air of excitement during my visit because Census unveiled an updated version of the America's Economy mobile app with three additional economic indicators, including the nonfarm payroll employment. The America’s Economy app, which gives users all sorts of current and historical statistics related to 19 economic indicators, is on my iPad and those of 98,000 other data users.

Secretary Pritzker Joins Secretary Lew at the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Secretary Pritzker Joins the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

This week, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the fifth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). Secretary Lew led discussions with the Chinese delegation, headed by Vice Premier Wang Yang. They were joined by a high-level delegation of Cabinet members, ministers, agency heads, and senior officials from both countries. This year’s S&ED provided an opportunity to demonstrate the tangible benefits of strategic engagement by making concrete progress on our priority issues and creating a more level playing field for American companies and workers.

Secretary Pritzker spoke during the Trade and Investment Session about the importance of ensuring American companies have equal and fair treatment when competing with Chinese companies. She also attended the Joint Session on Climate Change, Promoting Economic Growth Session and the CEO roundtable, where she heard from American companies about the opportunities and challenges of doing in business in China.

The United States and China emphasized the importance of promoting a comprehensive U.S.‑China economic relationship based on mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. The two countries reaffirmed the important commitments made by both countries in previous Strategic and Economic Dialogues. The two sides announced further concrete measures to support strong domestic and global growth, promote open trade and investment, enhance international rules and global economic governance, and foster financial market stability and reform. The two countries reached consensus to work expeditiously to implement the commitments made and, as the Special Representatives of the Economic Track, directed their respective economic teams to take concrete steps before the next Strategic and Economic Dialogue to do so.

PHOTO: Secretary Pritzker speaks with Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard during one of the meetings of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

Secretary Pritzker Visits NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction

On Tuesday, July 2, Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Acting Administrator of NOAA; Dr. Louis Uccellini, Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Weather Service; and, Bryan Norcross, Senior Executive Director of Weather Content and Presentation, and Senior Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel for an event at NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, MD.

Earlier this year, NOAA’s National Weather Service, which is part of the Department of Commerce, received funding through the Sandy Supplemental bill to invest in supercomputing technologies that will improve weather forecasting and modeling capabilities.   
 
The forecasts that NOAA’s National Weather Service provide to entities like The Weather Channel, Accuweather, and more than 300 other partners around the country not only help to save lives and property, but they help businesses operate and move goods as smoothly as possible through our airports and ports.  In many ways, their work is crucial to keeping our economy moving and growing.

Acting Secretary Cameron Kerry Honored to Serve the American Public Alongside His Brother

Acting Secretary Cameron Kerry is joined by his brother, Secretary of State John Kerry, in the Secretary's Office

Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Cameron Kerry.

Earlier this month, I was honored to take the helm at the Department of Commerce as Acting Secretary. Having served as the Department’s General Counsel for the last four years, I have come to know and cherish the exceptional work that the people at Commerce do to promote innovation and economic growth, provide world-class science for the benefit of the American people, and expand our exports and global trade. I’m proud to have been called on to lead this work as Acting Secretary.

While taking the leadership role at the Department of Commerce is a very special point in my career, my tenure as Acting Secretary also marks the first time in U.S. history that two siblings have served together in the President’s cabinet, as the Boston Globe pointed out in a piece this week. My older brother John, of course, is the U.S. Secretary of State.

Siblings throughout history have served in Administrations simultaneously – such as the Dulles brothers, who served as Secretary of State (John Foster Dulles) and CIA Director (Allen Dulles) during the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration. But never before have two brothers served in the Cabinet – which includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments – at the same time.

The Department of Commerce Supports U.S.-ASEAN Partnerships

ASEAN Member Nations

It’s no secret that Asia is a source of tremendous economic growth. For more than 35 years, the United States and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) member countries have worked to foster economic development through trade and investment.

This week, officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will join a visiting delegation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers for the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Road Show events in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, California, as well as in Washington, D.C. U.S. government officials from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, USTR, and State. Trade ministers from ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) will meet with Members of Congress, local government officials and business leaders to discuss various trade issues, commercial diplomacy, and trade-openness. The U.S. Department of Commerce is specifically committed to economic engagement with ASEAN in support of the White House Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative. ASEAN’s rapid economic development, growing middle class, and combined total trade of over $200 billion in goods and services speak to the tremendous enterprise and potential of the region. 

By 2015, ASEAN seeks to establish a unified economic market. The United States supports the integration efforts by ASEAN to establish an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will benefit both ASEAN economies and its U.S. business partners. The AEC would establish free flows of goods, services and foreign direct investment, as well as freer skilled labor and cross-border capital flows.

ASEAN’s progress toward establishing AEC, will have a strong impact on U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment. With a combined population of nearly 600 million people, an integrated ASEAN will lead to greater economies of scale and lower costs – which will help companies, workers and citizens in both the U.S. and ASEAN thrive.

The Commerce Department will continue to play a strong and active role in engaging with ASEAN. Commerce will do its part to foster more public-private relationships and support trade missions to ASEAN countries to help strengthen U.S.-ASEAN economic futures.

Working Together with Indian Country

Photo of Senior Adviser Dee Alexander

Guest blog post by Dee Alexander, Commerce's Senior Adviser on Native American Affairs

Last month, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank signed the “Tribal Consultation and Coordination Policy," (PDF) which establishes the manner in which the Department works with federally-recognized Indian tribes when developing Department policies that have tribal implications.

The Consultation Policy follows from President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation from November 2009 which strengthens former President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order on “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (PDF). Upon signing, President Obama stated the importance of the Presidential Memorandum: “History has shown that failure to include the voices of tribal officials in formulating policy affecting their communities has all too often led to undesirable and, at times, devastating and tragic results. By contrast, meaningful dialogue between Federal officials and tribal officials has greatly improved Federal policy toward Indian tribes.

Spotlight on Commerce: Peggy Leung-Dombrowski, Acting Chief Learning Officer, Office of Human Resources Management

Portrait of Peggy Leung-Dombrowski

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ms. Peggy Leung-Dombrowski, Acting Chief Learning Officer, Office of the Secretary

I was born and raised in Hong Kong (China), also known as Pearl of the East. Fifteen years ago, I would never have dreamt of working for one of the United States Government Cabinet level agencies, serving the American people, and working side by side with the brightest professionals in the Learning and Development (L&D) field. 

My father, who was a retired language translator for the British Government in Hong Kong by day, a professor at the University of Hong Kong by night, taught me the values of integrity, working hard, and perseverance. My father’s dictum was “People may steal your money but no one can ever take knowledge away from you.” He always encouraged me to travel and see the world, which allowed me to experience life in Australia, Canada, and the United States first hand. Then, I settled down in Virginia, pursued my passion, and received my Master of Education in Instructional Technology from George Mason University, which provided me the competencies to work in the L&D arena. 

Before joining public service in 2001, I worked in the private sector as a trainer, Instructional System Designer, and Training Manager. After serving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for  eight years, I began my career in the Department of Commerce (DOC) in 2009. At Commerce, I am the Acting Chief Learning Officer, Chair of the Department’s Chief Learning Officers Council, serving all the bureaus of the Department. My responsibilities include making recommendations on training development direction, including Leadership Development, to support our workforce; managing the implementation, development, quality assurance, and extended application of the enterprise Learning Management System; and providing Department training policies, processes and procedures guidance. Throughout my Commerce career, I have been supported by many mentors and managers, including Dr. Fred Lang, and Tyra Dent Smith for their guidance and leadership. I also serve on the Department’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council and am heavily involved in the Department’s D&I learning and retention strategies.

Digital Government Strategy Brings Big Changes to the Commerce Department

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy, an effort by the Administration to transform public-facing government services in line with 21st century expectations. The Department of Commerce has made some big strides in providing better information to citizens in a timely manner through multiple formats and increasing access to services on mobile devices. The goal is to make citizen services and information available anywhere, anytime, and on any device, and in formats that facilitate additional use by public developers and entrepreneurs.

Technology is changing so rapidly that nearly 50% of American adults own a smart phone today, up from 35% only one year ago. To help keep pace with the rapid deployment of mobile technology, Commerce is working hard to ensure our services and data are available to citizens in whatever format and on whatever device they prefer. For example, earlier this week, NOAA released a mobile app to provide free nautical charts for recreational boaters to ensure safer and easier boating. NOAA is putting the finishing touches on the iOS version of their Shortfin Mako Shark Live Release app for public release next week. The success of these apps builds upon the America’s Economy app from the U.S. Census Bureau that already has more than 90,000 downloads.

We also have released the additional data for public consumption. For example, the International Trade Administration has released an application programming interface (API) for Export Trade Events so that data can be used by other organizations to pull the most relevant events for their members. The Department's Bureau of Industry and Security created the Commerce Control List Order of Review Decision Tool, a new web-based tool to assist exporters in understanding changes being made as part of the Administration's Export Control Reform Initiative. All information available for public use is on Data.gov and also on our new Developer page. The release of this data and APIs is intended to provide developers, researches, entrepreneurs and others with the ability to access government data in ways that make it easier to use and program.