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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Meets with Business Leaders in Michigan, Stresses Value of Science and Innovation to Job Creation

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and the BathyBoat

This week Commerce’s Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and meet with area business leaders as part of the White House Business Council Roundtable series. Engaging with local leaders, Blank discussed the region’s economic assets, challenges, and what can be done on local, state and national levels to boost economic growth and job creation throughout Michigan.

Senior administration officials across the federal government have participated in several business roundtables around the country to keep in touch with Main Street and hear from those who are doing the innovating and hiring that support our nation’s economy.

At the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Blank addressed a Science Advisory Board meeting focused on Great Lakes research being conducted at two NOAA facilities. She highlighted the department’s recent release of a report profiling U.S. employment in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – and stressed the importance of supporting the next generation of scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs and the broad scope of work that organizations like NOAA do that are critically important to U.S. social and economic welfare.

The President has made a substantial commitment to furthering innovation and education in the STEM fields by setting a goal of investing 3 percent of our GDP in research and development and moving American students to the top of the pack internationally.  The President’s 2012 budget included a $206 million commitment toward STEM training and related programs – an investment that will pay off not just for students but for the country.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jon Wright, Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Photo of Jon Wright

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 winning the future through their work.

Jon Wright is a Legislative Assistant in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

My boss describes me as the office’s “utility infielder,” because I help the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs manage Department-wide special projects as a legislative assistant in the Secretary’s Congressional and state government liaison office

During my time at Commerce, I have had a wide variety of responsibilities and experiences from responding to Congressional oversight inquiries to staffing a Congressional delegation led by Secretary Locke to South Korea to build support for the U.S.–Korea Trade Agreement. The experience in government that impacted me most, however, was serving as a liaison to the Coast Guard Florida Incident Commander during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill where I advised him on handling the concerns of federal, state, and local elected officials.  It was my job to help ensure that the people who represent Floridians and Florida business owners were being heard. The response team and the administration were committed to addressing the economic and personal impacts of the spill, and I was proud to play a part in that.

Spotlight on Commerce: Anne Rung, Senior Director of Administration at U.S. Department of Commerce

Portrait of Anne Rung

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 winning the future through their work.

Anne Rung is the Senior Director of Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

A year ago I moved from Pennsylvania, where I was born and raised, to Washington, D.C., to join the Department of Commerce as Senior Director of Administration.  Prior to my move to Washington, I  worked for Governor Edward Rendell in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Under Governor Rendell, I served as Deputy Secretary for Procurement and Administration for the state’s largest operating agency, the Department of General Services (DGS).  Because of significant budget challenges in Pennsylvania, our team at DGS focused on reform efforts to drive down costs and improve efficiencies.

I joined the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Administration and CFO to assist with similar reform efforts underway at the Department of Commerce, including acquisition reform – a top priority of Secretary Locke.  Under his leadership, we’ve embarked on an Acquisition Improvement program to deliver greater results, greater savings and greater acquisition efficiencies.  Our efforts include a new approach to defining requirements, better identifying and managing high-risk projects, smarter buying, and performance metrics to ensure accountability.

2nd Quarter Performance Excellence Awards Ceremony

Early in his tenure, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued a challenge to the entire Commerce Department to improve service delivery to the American public and to develop measureable standards by which each of the bureaus could judge their customer service and internal performance.  It is this vision that launched the Commerce Performance Excellence program, putting the department at the cutting edge of the Administration’s efforts to increase the return on investment of government programs.  The program supports the education of staff, recognition of significant achievements and the sharing of winning strategies to help the department become more engaged in improving processes to deliver more effective and efficient services.

On May 25, 2011, Secretary Locke recognized three exemplary employee teams from the Census Bureau, NOAA, and the Economic Development Administration with Performance Excellence Awards.  For the second time in less than one year, Commerce employees were honored for successfully implementing streamlined processes to better the administration and delivery of service to the American people.

In this video, Secretary Locke, Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and others discuss the program, the awards and why process improvement matters.

In addition to its efforts to identify and promote quality improvements by role model teams throughout Commerce, the Performance Excellence program also deploys a system of Balanced Scorecards, quarterly Performance Reviews, and team process improvements to all bureaus.  Employees can learn learn more about the Performance Excellence program and Award recipients as well as information on the Balanced Scorecard or how they can improve processes in their own office by visiting the Performance Excellence page on the Commerce Intranet.

Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Releases 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative to Congress

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, on behalf of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, today released to Congress the 2011 National Export Strategy: Powering the National Export Initiative (PDF). The report reinforces the importance of U.S. exports of goods and services, which in 2010 totaled $1.84 trillion, an increase of nearly 17% over 2009 levels, and supported more than 9 million jobs in the United States.

Starting with this report, the annual National Export Strategy will fill the essential role of tracking and measuring the federal government’s progress in implementing the NEI. The TPCC will assess new opportunities and seek new ways for its agencies to improve coordination and increase effectiveness.  The National Export Strategy identifies the four areas of focus during 2011:

  • Collaborating with states, metropolitan areas, and border communities to help U.S. companies successfully export around the globe;
  • Encouraging exports by U.S. companies selling technologies in high-growth sectors;
  • Ensuring better data and measurement of U.S. services sector exporting; and
  • Removing barriers to trade, including through passage of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements.

Spotlight on Commerce: Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative Affairs

Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative 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 winning the future through their work.

Guest blog by Jim Stowers, Director of Legislative Affairs.

As Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Commerce, I serve as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary on legislative matters before Congress and other federal departments. 

My journey to this point in my career began about 25 years ago when I was growing up in Benton County, Arkansas and had the good fortune one Saturday evening to hear Senator Dale Bumpers speak at the annual Little Flock Picnic.  I don’t recall everything Senator Bumpers said in his speech that night, but I do recall being star struck by an exceptionally gifted speaker and inspired by his pursuit of the common good through public service. 

That moment - combined with my growing awareness of the political process and its importance – inspired me to pursue an internship in Senator Bumpers’ Washington office while I was in college and later serve for 12 years in the office of U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.  Today, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue my public service in the Obama Administration at the Department of Commerce.   

Growing Exports with the New Market Exporter Initiative

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons tours Muscatine Foods in Iowa with the chairman of the company, Gage Kent.

Guest blog by Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Department of Commerce are working together to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. The New Market Exporter Initiative (NMEI) will make it easier for manufacturers to identify new markets, find new customers for their products and grow their business.

Exports are a key part of any competitiveness agenda. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. With the right tools and resources, manufacturers can increase their exports and find new customers.

Many of these manufacturers don’t have the resources to conduct extensive research on new possible export markets. Small and medium-sized firms, for example, account for 95 percent of all exporters in the U.S., yet only about one-third of all exports. The NMEI helps small and medium-sized manufacturers that are currently exporting to one or two countries expand their export sales to new markets. 

Bringing and Keeping Business Investment in America

SelectUSA logo

Guest blog by Gary Locke, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Cross-posted at the White House blog.

Business investment in America creates and supports millions of jobs, while generating economic growth and opportunities in communities throughout the United States.

Today at the Business Round Table in Washington, D.C., we announced a new initiative – SelectUSA – the first-ever government-wide program to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States by both domestic and foreign companies.

America has the most appealing investment environment in the world, with the largest consumer market, an educated workforce, strong intellectual-property protections and open capital markets.

More than 5 million Americans are directly employed by foreign companies in the U.S., ranging from Japanese carmakers to British banks to Indian energy and industrial companies.

But at a time when competition for business investment is more intense than ever, the U.S. is the only developed economy in the world without a national-level investment program and advocacy program.

In recent years we have been losing ground in attracting and retaining business investment to better coordinated foreign competitors.

SelectUSA, established by Executive Order of the President, will leverage existing resources of the federal government to ramp up promotion of the U.S. as a prime investment destination to create jobs at home and to keep jobs from going overseas.

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Commerce Updates Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and Publishes Climate Adaptation Policy

NIST Solar Array

On June 3, the U.S. Department of Commerce updated its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP), an 80-page roadmap to increasing its energy and environmental stewardship. The SSPP details the department’s current progress and plans for meeting targets in 8 key areas, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption to increasing on-site generation of renewable energy and recycling.

Highlights from 2010 include the completion of a 120 KW solar array to power the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Kauai, Hawaii WWVH radio station, which is projected to save nearly $60,000 per year; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s construction of two green buildings and plans for completion of four more; and completion of Commerce’s first ever inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the SSPP update Secretary Locke issued the department’s first ever climate change adaptation policy, which commits Commerce to considering climate change impacts when undertaking planning, setting priorities for scientific research and investigations, and making decisions regarding its resources, programs, policies, and operations.

The new policy also commits Commerce to developing and publishing a department-wide Climate Adaptation Plan by June 4, 2012, which will evaluate risks and vulnerabilities to climate change and define the department’s strategy for managing climate change impacts in both the short and long term.