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 byJim 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier today, Secretary Locke joined President Obama and other senior administration officials for a meeting of the Jobs and Competitiveness Council in the Raleigh-Durham area. Prior to the President's arrival, Secretary Locke participated in one of the five Listening and Action sessions to engage with the local business community and solicit input on how the public and private sectors can partner to create opportunity and job creation for small businesses.
Other participants in the session, titled “Energy Innovation and Smartgrid,” include Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Lewis Hay, III, Chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, Gary Kelly, Chairman, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines, and Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation.
Guest blog post by Ari Schwartz, Internet Policy Adviser at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and member of the Internet Policy Task Force at the Department of Commerce.
As we all know, the Internet
has led to incredible commercial growth and an unprecedented means for
self-expression and innovation. Some industry analysts now estimate that
the Internet now carries some $10 trillion in online transactions annually.
However, each time a new
technology dramatically expands the boundaries of commerce, there are
dishonest, dangerous people who try to disrupt and exploit the new pathways for
their own gain. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as the Web,
e-mail, and e-commerce have become the electronic version of Main Street,
hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals have emerged as major threats to its
welfare. An estimated 67,000 new malicious viruses, worms, spyware and other
threats are released every day.
To paraphrase Willy Sutton: It’s where the money. . . and the information is.
A new Commerce Department
report issued today calls for a
public-private partnership and voluntary codes of conduct to help strengthen
the cybersecurity of companies that increasingly rely on the Internet to do
business, but are not part of the critical infrastructure sector as defined by
recent cybersecurity legislative proposal. Issued by the department’s
Internet Policy Task Force, the report targets what it calls the Internet and
Information Innovation Sector or the I3S. These are businesses that range
from Mom and Pop manufacturers or startups that sell most of their products and
services online to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to cloud
computing firms that provide anytime, anywhere access to applications and
personal or public data.
The Innovation Advisory Board held its first meeting today at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va. Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank led the meeting and Secretary Gary Locke welcomed and thanked the new board members for their service. The 15-member board will guide a study of U.S. economic competitiveness and innovation to help inform national policies at the heart of U.S. job creation and global competitiveness.
In the State of the Union, President Obama launched a commitment to winning the future by out innovating the rest of the world. The board will build upon the early work and findings of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and Startup America to advise the U.S. Department of Commerce as it produces a report by January 2012 assessing America's capacity for innovation and our global economic competitiveness. The study will analyze all facets of the economy impacted by national policy, including trade and exports, education, research and development, immigration, technology commercialization, intellectual property and tax policy.
The Innovation Advisory Board was established by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, signed by President Obama in January of this year. See list of board members. See a statement on today’s inaugural meeting from Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Blank.
Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank is in Ottawa, Canada
today and gave remarks before the American Chamber of Commerce. She
discussed U.S.–Canada commercial relations and how the free flow of goods and
services results in huge economic benefits for both countries. She also
highlighted the benefits of creating jobs and economic growth on both sides of
Increasing trade between the
two countries will help reach President
Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports in 5
years. To reach that goal, Blank emphasized that 2011 needs to be another
banner year for U.S.-Canada trade. In 2010, U.S. exports to Canada reached $248.8
fact, the U.S.–Canada economic relationship is unparalleled in the
world. We are each others’ largest trading partners.
The America Invents Act increases
the certainty of patent rights by implementing a
first-inventor-to-file system for patent approval, which reduces the need
for cost-prohibitive litigation that often ties up new ideas in court, stifling
innovation and holding back job creation. It will also allow the United
States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to set and retain the fees it
collects from its users. The USPTO is entirely fee-funded, and this
fee-setting authority will ensure high-quality, timely patent review and
address the backlog of patent applications that is currently preventing new
innovations from reaching the marketplace.
the beginning of Locke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary, reforming the U.S. patent
system to support the acceleration of American innovation and competitiveness
and drive job creation and economic growth has been one of his top priorities.
In meetings with CEOs and U.S.
business leaders from companies of all sizes, the shortcomings of the U.S. patent
system and the need for reform has almost always been a topic of conversation.
During the last two years, Locke has
worked with bipartisan Congressional leaders as they have crafted legislation
that is widely supported by industry experts, universities, independent
inventors, and the business community, because it will make it easier for America’s
innovators to produce new technologies that drive economic growth and create