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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Dr. Rebecca Blank Testifies Before Senate Committee on Nomination

Blank with microphone before the audience (Photo: NOAA)

Acting Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank testified yesterday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on her nomination to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce. Dr. Blank addressed her goals that, if confirmed, include initiatives to support American businesses and job creation, increasing efficiency and retaining a skilled and motivated workforce.

She is currently the Acting Deputy Secretary where she is focused on matters of management and policy for the department’s 12 bureaus, functioning as Commerce’s chief operating officer. Since 2009 Dr. Blank has served as the Secretary's principal economic adviser as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, overseeing the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. From August 2011 through October 2011, between the end of Secretary Gary Locke’s tenure and the beginning of Secretary John Bryson’s term, Blank served as Acting Secretary of Commerce. During that time, she worked to promote the Obama administration’s efforts to improve the economy.  Biography

Secretary Bryson Meets With Key Business and Industry Groups

Secretary Bryson with key business leaders (Photo: U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Today Secretary Bryson attended three meetings with key businesses and industry groups. In the morning, Bryson met with trade association leaders to discuss their top priorities and challenges and how the Commerce Department can help their member businesses grow and succeed.   

After that meeting, Bryson met with the Business Roundtable (BRT) Executive Committee to discuss the issues affecting their membership and how Commerce can help their companies grow and succeed. BRT is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with over $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 14 million employees.

Bryson finished the day at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Two days prior to heading to China to meet with the American and Chinese business communities and participate in annual trade talks, Bryson participated in a roundtable discussion with U.S. and Chinese CEOs, as well as former government leaders, at the annual meeting of the Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-China CEO Dialogue. The Dialogue is co-chaired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue, and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges Chairman and former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan.

Secretary John Bryson ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden

Secretary of Commerce John Bryson shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden

Yesterday afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially swore in John Bryson as the Secretary of Commerce. The ceremony took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

At the end of October, the Senate confirmed John Bryson to head the U.S. Department of Commerce by a 74-26 vote, with 21 Republicans and two independents joining all the Democrats in support.

Before assuming his position as commerce secretary, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group, for almost 18 years, where he led the company through times of both opportunities and crisis.

Learn more about John Bryson.

Commerce Veteran Hiring at 16-Year High

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Commerce is proud to announce that in the last year, veteran hiring reached a 16-year high, raising the total representation of veteran new hires to 12.5 percent.

Two years ago, on November 9, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13518: Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. This Executive order charged all Cabinet-level departments with establishing a Veterans Employment Office, developing an operational plan, and providing mandatory annual training to hiring managers and senior human resources practitioners on veterans preferences and special appointing authorities for veterans.

In response to the President’s Executive Order, Commerce hired Sean Lenahan, former U.S. Coast Guard officer, as their Veterans Employment Program Manager to head the Veterans Employment Team and lead all Department-level veterans hiring initiatives. The Department’s Veterans Employment Team consists of members from the Census Bureau, the Patent and Trademark Office, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“Our Veterans Employment Team has worked tirelessly to enhance employment opportunities for veterans throughout the Department,” said Bill Fleming, Director of Human Resources, Department of Commerce.  Mr. Fleming, a U.S. Army veteran, is one of the many veterans that hold key senior leadership positions within the Department.  Michael Phelps, Director, Office of the Budget, and Barry Berkowitz, Director, Office of Acquisition Management, are both highly decorated, retired officers of the U.S. Air Force.

Building Networks to Advance the Innovation Economy

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Guest blog post by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Like President Obama, the top priority of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s new Secretary John Bryson is jobs. Advancing innovative economies is key to achieving sustainable job creation.

Today I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to address innovators, technology business leaders and economic development professionals to discuss ways to accelerate America’s innovation economy to create good jobs and increase our global competitiveness.

I was joined by my colleagues Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Sean Greene, Associate Administrator for Investment and Special Adviser for Innovation at the Small Business Administration at a conference hosted by State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) – an organization that seeks to improve the economy through science and technology.  We discussed how under President Obama’s leadership federal agencies are making the smart investments needed to promote American innovation and support entrepreneurship and small business development.

Commerce Employees Saving Taxpayer Money

The BEA team with Secretary John Bryson and Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank

Secretary Bryson and Acting Deputy Secretary Blank have recognized three Commerce teams that are improving customer service and saving taxpayer money.  Teams from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Census Bureau, and Department of Commerce Human Resources offices have received the Performance Excellence Award.

The Performance Excellence Award is distributed to teams that support the Secretary’s vision of an evolving department and continuously improve service delivery to the American public. Bryson hopes to establish the department as a role model for other federal agencies. In an effort to go the extra mile, process improvement teams are examining the department’s infrastructure to identify and remove inefficiencies.  As a result, processes are streamlined to enhance the administration and delivery of services to customers. Although the sector is very diverse, it is definitely possible to improve service delivery through department-wide collaboration.

Today, Bryson recognized three teams that have developed new processes to accelerate reduced costs and improve programs within their purview.

Meet John Bryson, the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Photo of John Bryson

Last night the U.S. Senate confirmed John Bryson as the next U.S. Secretary of Commerce and he was sworn in today.

Before assuming his position as commerce secretary, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group, for almost 18 years, where he led the company through times of both opportunities and crisis.  Bryson guided Edison through the California energy crisis of 2002 without going bankrupt, built a stronger company in the process and created jobs for American workers, while keeping the lights on for thousands of businesses and millions of families in California.

He was a director of The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company and Coda Automotive, Inc., and was a senior advisor to KKR.  He was also chairman of the board of BrightSource Energy, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) Board of Overseers.  He also served as co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP).

Mr. Bryson was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology and a director of The California Endowment and the W. M. Keck Foundation.  He served on the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank Americas.  He also previously served on a number of educational and environmental boards, including as chairman of the California Business Roundtable, co-chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), trustee of Stanford University, and as a member of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC).

The White House blog has quotes from individuals ranging from the COO of Facebook to the former Treasury Secretary John Snow to Mayors across the country supporting the nomination of John Bryson.  Commerce press release   |  White House statement

Acting Secretary Blank Highlights the Obama Administration's Pro-Business Record

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Delivering the Keynote Address at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Annual Meeting

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today delivered the keynote address at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Annual Meeting, where she highlighted the different ways the American Jobs Act would make an immediate impact on job creation: cutting taxes for small businesses, putting more money in the pockets of consumers through an expanded payroll tax cut, and preventing the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and policemen, while putting construction workers to work through much-needed renovations to school, roads, rail and airports renovations.

Blank also discussed the Obama administration’s record supporting business expansion, highlighting the 17 different small business tax cuts implemented by the administration, major reform of the patent system that will bring the ideas of innovators to market faster, and investments in education and infrastructure that will help businesses thrive.

The American Jobs Act would:

  • Slash the payroll tax in half for 98 percent of businesses, benefitting 410,000 Florida companies;
  • Allow localities to avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and cops – 25,900 in Florida alone;
  • Modernize at least 35,000 public schools, supporting renovations across the country and as many as 16,600 jobs in Florida;
  • Put the long-term unemployed – a group that totals 498,000 in Florida – back to work by making the most innovative reforms to unemployment insurance in 40 years;
  • Extend unemployment insurance, preventing 5 million Americans, including 148,500 in Florida, from losing their benefits; and,
  • Cut payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year, giving the typical Florida family a $1,730 tax cut.

Remarks

So What's in the Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea?

Yesterday, President Obama sent three trade agreements to Congress for approval. While each of the trade agreements were negotiated differently, they all share one common goal - to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. Each supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

All Trade Promotion Agreements have one thing in common. They reduce barriers to U.S. exports, and protect U.S. interests and enhance the rule of law in the partner country. The reduction of trade barriers and the creation of a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment make it easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export their products and services to trading partner markets.This results in jobs here in America.

The most common question about these agreements is, "What exactly is in them?" Below the fold are some of the key specifics for each agreement.

Acting Secretary Blank Addresses Minority-Owned Businesses about the Importance of the American Jobs Act

Acting Secretary Blank Addresses MED Week 2011

This morning Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank addressed the 29th Annual Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference about the importance of Congress passing the American Jobs Act. Dr. Blank emphasized that the American Jobs Act will help a private sector in need of a little boost. It will create jobs. It will prevent the layoffs of teachers and first responders. And it will rebuild the roads, railways and airports that form the very backbone of Commerce. 

She noted that the Obama Administration knows government can’t solve all the problems facing our country. What it can do is help lay a foundation for growth and create smart incentives for minority entrepreneurs and all American businesses to build something special on top of that foundation.

As part of this commitment to business and job growth, among the programs the administration has created are:

  • The Startup America Initiative, which connects established private sector mentors to innovative entrepreneurs;
  • The Small Business Jobs Act, which is providing billions of dollars in lending support and tax cuts for small businesses;
  • The $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to drive job growth through public-private partnerships in regions around the country, and we’re pleased to note that three MBDA centers were among the winners.
  • The National Export Initiative, which Commerce leads, is aimed at connecting small and medium sized enterprises with the 95 percent of the world’s consumer who live outside our border and doubling U.S. exports by 2015; and,
  • New aggressive steps by federal agencies, which are the nation’s largest purchaser of goods and services, to improve contracting with small businesses, including minority-owned firms.

The goal is simple. It is to improve the overall competitiveness of American business at home and abroad.