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Blog Category: Office of the Secretary

The Commerce Department’s Latest Privacy Initiative on Data Privacy Day

Today is Data Privacy Day, an annual international celebration to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy designated by both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. In honor of Data Privacy Day, here’s an update on the latest Commerce Department initiative to protect the privacy of the American people.

On Jan. 7 at a discussion forum with business and academic leaders at Stanford University, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt unveiled plans to establish a National Program Office at the Commerce Department to help implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, an administration initiative that aims to foster private-sector development of new technologies that can improve both the privacy and the security of sensitive online transactions.

Cybercrime and identity theft cost U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. So the idea is that the private sector would lead the development of better technologies for consumers and businesses to establish their identities before they conduct sensitive transactions like banking, shopping or downloading health care records. The Commerce Department would facilitate the process by building consensus on standards and managing collaborative efforts with other federal agencies.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Colombia’s Vice President

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon to discuss various trade issues including the pending trade agreement.

“President Obama understands that implementing the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement is a key component in our trade agenda – creating jobs and forging new business ties between our countries.  Colombia is an important market for U.S. companies, and the Trade Agreement is a key component of our National Export Initiative.”

Locke also expressed his deepest sympathy to the Colombian people in the wake of the disastrous flooding that killed over 300 people.

New Markets, New Jobs: The National Export Initiative Small Business Tour

Beginning the TPCC Meeting

On the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg announced today the launch of a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to help connect small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.

“For America to win the future, more small and medium sized businesses must export, because the more small businesses export, the more they produce; the more they produce, the more workers they need, and that means good-paying jobs here at home,” Locke said.

The first of these New Markets, New Jobs events is scheduled for February 17th in Minneapolis, Minn. Locke is expected to be joined by Kirk, Mills, Hochberg, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, among others. The Minnesota stop will be followed by events in Los Angeles, Calif., Louisiana and Wilmington, Del. in the coming months. The conferences, which were called for in September’s Report to the President on the National Export Initiative, are intended to reach more than 3,500 small and medium sized companies interested in exporting.

Secretary Locke visits Arc Energy in Nashua, New Hampshire

Secretary Locke speaks during a question and answer session

Yesterday, Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Hampshire and met with regional business leaders and toured Arc Energy, a renewable energy equipment manufacturer that specializes in solid state lighting technologies.

One day after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Locke reinforced the importance of strengthening America’s competitiveness by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world.  He discussed how a more competitive America will help rebuild the economy, create more jobs and prepare the country for challenges ahead.

Locke also discussed how the recently-passed tax cut package, which reduces the payroll tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and allows businesses to temporarily expense 100% of their capital investments in 2011, benefits companies like Arc Energy.  The tax cuts package provides tax relief to 800,000 people in New Hampshire and extends unemployment benefits to 12,627 residents whose benefits would have otherwise expired.

Arc Energy develops cutting-edge technologies that substantially reduce the cost of LED lighting.  It exports products to several countries, including China and Korea, and has signed multiple contracts worth several hundred million dollars in 2011.  President Obama visited Arc one year ago and since then the manufacturer has experienced significant growth – expanding its workforce by 300 percent.  Because of the industry’s expansive supply chain, for every person Arc Energy hires, roughly four to five additional jobs are created elsewhere in the United States.

Laying a Foundation to Double Our Exports, Increase Competitiveness

Today Secretary Locke wrote an op-ed posted in The Hill with a focus on how the administration and the Commerce Department are working to increase America's global competitiveness and create U.S. jobs by selling more American-made goods and services around the world.

Cross posted at The Hill

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As 2011 begins, the American economy is stronger than at any time since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

Retail sales just had their strongest quarterly gain since 2001. Private sector employment grew every single month in 2010, with the manufacturing sector posting its first increase in annual employment since 1997.

These are strong indications that the steps President Obama took to foster economic recovery are working — beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the December 2010 tax-cut package.

But that’s not to suggest that anyone within the administration or the Commerce Department is satisfied — not with unemployment still over 9 percent.

As we move forward, policymakers should remember that the most important contest is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future.

Making the U.S. more competitive will require us to focus on two things: supercharging innovation and selling more American-made goods and services around the world, so that U.S. firms can hire more workers and reinvest in the research and development they need to keep growing.

Although the private sector will take the lead on innovation, we can’t forget that the government has always had an important, supportive role to play, and the Commerce Department is engaged in a variety of areas.

Department of Commerce Takes Steps to Implement Export Control Initiatives to Facilitate High-Tech Trade with India

Today Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security published a Federal Register Notice which updates the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) in several ways, including:

  • Removing several Indian space- and defense-related companies from the Entity List.  Removal from the Entity List eliminates a license requirement specific to the companies, and results in the removed companies being treated the same way as any other destination in India for export licensing purposes.
  • Removing India from several country groups in the EAR resulting in the removal of export license requirements that were tied to India’s placement in those country groups.
  • Adding India to a country group in the EAR that consists of members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, to recognize and communicate India's adherence to the regime, the U.S.-India strategic partnership, and India's global non-proliferation standing.  .

These are the first steps in implementing the export control policy initiatives announced by President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh on November 8, 2010.

“Today’s action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the U.S.-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high technology trade and cooperation,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. He is preparing to lead 24 U.S. businesses on a high-tech trade mission to India in early February.  |  Release

Secretary Locke Delivers Key Policy Speech on U.S.-China Commercial Relations

 Secretary Locke addresses the U.S.-China Business Council about the path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship

At a luncheon today hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke laid out a path to unlock the full potential of the U.S.-China commercial relationship.  Locke discussed how leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses in the Chinese market will help spur global innovation and economic growth and create jobs in America.  

Locke applauded steps China has taken to open its markets since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and progress made at the recent Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting. And he cited examples of American and Chinese companies working together to solve big, global challenges. |  Remarks

The 2010 Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

On December 14 and 15, Commerce Secretary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, together with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, co-chaired the 21st annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Washington, DC.  General Counsel Kerry participated in this year’s JCCT, which covered a range of issues and yielded positive results, particularly China’s commitments to enhance its enforcement of intellectual property rights, adopt non-discriminatory government procurement policies, and collaborate with the U.S. in areas of emerging technology such as Smart Grid.  China’s commitments will lead to increased opportunities for U.S. exporters and a more level playing field for U.S. companies operating in China.   

General Counsel Kerry led the U.S. delegation’s work on commercial law cooperation.  In this area, the two sides agreed to continue to promote mutual understanding of commercial legal developments impacting U.S.-China trade.  The primary vehicle for this cooperation is the U.S.-China Legal Exchange, which GC Kerry co-leads.  The United States and China agreed to convene the 2011 Legal Exchange in the United States in cities and on topics to be determined by mutual agreement.  This builds upon the work of GC Kerry, Chinese Deputy International Trade Representative Chong Quan, and Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council Vice-Minister An Jian, who successfully led the 2010 U.S.-China Legal Exchange to Hangzhou (October 18), Wuhan (October 20), and Chengdu (October 22), which focused on U.S. export promotion activities and trade remedies laws and practices. 

Read more about Commerce’s participation here.

2010 Office of General Counsel Awards

General Counsel Kerry

On Tuesday, December 14, 2010 General Counsel Kerry presided over the Office of General Counsel Annual Awards Ceremony.  He was joined by Secretary Locke who delivered remarks, thanking the office for their tireless work over the past year.  The Secretary acknowledged the critical role that the office’s attorneys and support staff played in helping him implement a number of important Department and Administration priorities.  He introduced GC Kerry, who detailed the broad range of accomplishments achieved by OGC offices over the past year.  He highlighted the role OGC played in the successful completion of Phase 1 of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the successful litigation of the Supreme Court Case Bilski v. Kappos (08-964).  He also applauded OGC’s contributions to the successful execution of the Decennial Census, ongoing Oil Spill litigation, and Export Control Reform.

Secretary Locke and GC Kerry presented the two Attorney of the Year Awards and the Support Staff of the Year Award.  The 2010 recipients are:

Attorney of the Year - Rayna G. Eller – ELLD/Census & Economic Statistics Administration

Rayna has provided exceptional legal services during the past year, and made very significant contributions which have advanced several critical missions of the Department.  Nowhere were her abilities more evident than in her effective advice to, and representation of, the Census Bureau during the 2010 Decennial Census.  More than any other staff attorney in the Department, Rayna’s actions provided the Census Bureau with the ability to hire and retain the workforce necessary to complete its Constitutionally-mandated duty to render an accurate count of the Nation’s population.

Attorney of the Year - Peter R. Klason – Bureau of Industry and Security

Peter has provided outstanding support to the Bureau of Industry and Security over the past year, displaying tremendous versatility and depth of knowledge on a range of issues.  His work has proven integral throughout each step of the President’s Export Control Reform Initiative.  He also played a major role ensuring the President’s recent trip to India was a success by ensuring that BIS was able to deliver on new bilateral agreements with the Government of India

Support Staff of the Year - Michael Christensen – US Patent and Trademark Office

Michael served as the IT Liaison/IT Specialist assigned to the Office of the General Counsel at the Patent and Trademark Office.  He has been the “go-to” person to get things done and is a model teammate who set a positive example.  Michael exhibited great dedication to his technical support work while serving as the IT expert for services, system development, and coordination with OGC, USPTO, and DOC customers, frequently working long hours to provide IT customer service and systems design support.  He consistently volunteered to help attorneys, paralegals, and support personnel with a myriad of IT tasks to ensure legal mission requirements were met.  Michael has been a leader on the EDMS project and a leader in the OGC Technology Working Group.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases National and State Populations from 2010 Census

Secretary Locke, Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Census Director Groves Unveiled the Official National Population

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released their initial data from the 2010 Census. The nationwide population as of April 1, 2010 was 308,745,538. Secretary Locke also announced a final 2010 Census savings of $1.87 billion.

“Without the help of the American people and the more than 257,000 partner organizations that worked with the U.S. Census Bureau to raise awareness and encourage participation, we would not have been able to achieve $1.87 billion in 2010 Census savings and a final mail response rate of 74 percent in a time of declining survey participation,” Locke said.

The 2010 Census counts show how the U.S. population has grown and shifted over the last decade. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed every year to states and communities based in part on Census population data and American Community Survey (ACS) results. State and local governments use this data to plan new roads, new schools and new emergency services, and businesses use the data to develop new economic opportunities.

With field operations now completed, the 2010 Census came in at a cost 25 percent lower than planned expenditures for this fiscal year. In August, the Census Bureau announced $1.6 billion in 2010 Census savings. The final figure increased by almost $300 million due to additional efficiencies in subsequent operations and field infrastructure.

The U.S. Census also announced the reapportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives. Texas will gain 4 congressional seats. Florida will gain 2 seats. Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and Nevada will each gain an additional congressional district. New York and Ohio will each lose two congressional seats. Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey will lose one congressional district.