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The Commerce Blog

NIST Helps to Accelerate Federal Government Adoption of Cloud Computing

Department of Energy diagram of cloud computing

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued two new draft documents on cloud computing for public comment, including the first set of guidelines for managing security and privacy issues in cloud computing. The agency also has set up a new NIST Cloud Computing Collaboration website to enable two-way communication among the cloud community and the NIST cloud research working groups.

Cloud computing is a way for nearly anyone or any organization with access to the Internet to rent computer power for applications and data storage from cloud providers who run large computers. Working on a cloud feels the same to users, but the cloud provider performs the many management activities required to keep computers operating and secure.

U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra asked NIST to accelerate the federal government’s secure adoption of cloud computing by leading efforts to develop standards and guidelines in collaboration with standards organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders. The release of these new publications and the new website are part of NIST’s work to fulfill that mission.

The publications include The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, which documents years of NIST research on cloud computing, and Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing, which provides an overview of the security and privacy challenges for public cloud computing and presents recommendations that organizations should consider when outsourcing data, applications and infrastructure to a public cloud environment.

The new Cloud Computing Collaboration website, developed to foster the cloud community’s collaboration on the federal government’s secure adoption of cloud computing, provides information about NIST’s cloud computing program and invites public participation on working groups that address a wide range of cloud computing topics.

To comment on these reports, contribute to the Wiki, or get additional information, visit http://www.nist.gov/itl/csd/cloud-020111.cfm

Secretary Locke Announces 47 Percent Trade Surplus in the Travel and Tourism Industry

Secretary Locke convenes travel and tourism advisory committee

At a meeting of the Commerce Department’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a 47 percent surge in the travel and tourism trade surplus in 2010; the surplus now exceeds $28 billion. The United States welcomed more than 55 million international visitors during the first 11 months of 2010, 11.4 million more visitors than the year before. While international visitation increased 10 percent, international visitor spending increased 11 percent to $122.7 billion. The travel and tourism industry employs nearly 8 million people across the United States.

During the meeting, Locke discussed the progress made on the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double exports by 2015 in support of several million U.S. jobs. Through November 2010, total U.S. exports were up 17 percent, and travel and tourism is on track to contribute to significant export growth.

“Travel and tourism continues to be one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy,” said Locke. “With a $28.3 billion trade surplus in the first 11 months of 2010, this industry has a huge role to play in helping our country answer President Obama’s call to double our exports by 2015 and win the future.”

The Board consists of 30 industry leaders from the travel and tourism industry who are appointed to advise Secretary Locke on matters relating to the industry and provide policy recommendations.  The Board was re-chartered in September 2009, and the current term will expire on September 3, 2011. 

Members of the Travel Facilitation Working Group presented a letter to Secretary Locke with 10 recommendations that address key visa and customer service issues, with the goal to increase the number of overseas international visitors to the U.S. to meet the current forecast of 36.7 million visitors by 2015, supporting job creation. |  Remarks

NIST Opens $20 Million Grant Competition to Support New Scientific Research Facilities

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a new competition for grants to support the construction of new and expanded scientific research facilities at institutions of higher education and nonprofit scientific research organizations.

Through the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP), the agency expects $20 million to be available for grants ranging from $5 to $10 million over a period of no more than five years.

The program provides competitively awarded, cost-shared grants for the construction of new science research buildings or the expansion of existing buildings, including laboratories, test facilities, measurement facilities, research computing facilities and observatories. Proposed projects must complement the research goals of one or more of the department’s three science agencies: NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). These agencies conduct research in measurement science, engineering, oceanography, atmospheric research and telecommunications.

Since 2008, NCGP has provided over $250 million in grant funding for new or expanded facilities at 24 institutions across the nation to pursue research in topics ranging from earthquakes and ocean ecology to nanoscale engineering and quantum physics.

Additional details of the competition, including deadlines, application procedures and requirements, are available at Grants.gov and the NCGP website. Read the full press release.

Startup America Kickoff at the White House

Secretary Locke participated in the White House launch of the “Startup America” initiative today in Washington, D.C. with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee, and a number of America’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“Startup America” is a national campaign to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country with new initiatives to help encourage private sector investment in job-creating startups and small firms, accelerate breakthrough research, and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The launch follows President Obama’s State of the Union commitment to winning the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world.

To support this effort, the Department of Commerce plans to build on the success of last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge with i6 Green, a second competition this year focused on both regional economic development and environmental sustainability. The program aims to accelerate technology-led economic development in pursuit of a vibrant, innovative clean economy. The department is also developing the Three Track program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which would give innovators more control over application processing and support a more efficient market for innovation.  

Today’s event was one of a number of events the White House will hold this week to focus on innovation and how we can create the jobs and industries of the future by investing in the creativity and imagination of the American people. Learn more about Startup America by viewing the complete fact sheet, and learn about the independent and private-sector led campaign to mobilize private-sector commitments at Startup America Partnerships.  |  Remarks

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.

U.S. Commerce Department, NIST Host Standards Setting Forum

The three principal speakers at forum table

Secretary Locke opened a discussion with thought leaders from industry and academia today at the Commerce Department on the federal government’s role in setting, developing, using and adopting standards for critical national needs.

Together with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the department hosted the panel discussion led by Phil Weiser, senior advisor on technology and innovation at the White House National Economic Council. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Patrick Gallagher also participated.

Achieving national priorities – which include a smart grid for electricity distribution, electronic health records, cybersecurity, cloud computing and interoperable emergency communications –depends upon the existence of sound technical standards. The standards being developed through public-private partnerships for these new technology sectors are helping to drive innovation, economic growth and job creation.

The roundtable provided key insights for the National Science and Technology Council's Sub-Committee on Standards, administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. NIST, on behalf of the subcommittee, recently published a Federal Register notice seeking input on effective federal participation in standards and conformity assessment activities related to technology.  Learn more at http://www.nist.gov/el/standards_roundtable.cfm.