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Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Spotlight on Commerce: Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary

Growing up in a single parent household, I learned the value of working hard to attain your goals. Watching my mother work hard and be selfless to provide for me and my siblings instilled a value of tenacity and integrity. She served in the federal government as a financial management specialist for 39 years. My mother’s love for her career has been truly inspiring and sparked an interest in me early on. 

I have worked in the federal government since 2001, beginning at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Aspiring Leaders Program, coupled with great mentors, provided me with training and leadership opportunities that helped shape my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

My career at Commerce began in 2005 in the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Office of Executive Budgeting. For the next four years, I learned the fundamentals of the Commerce budgeting process, and later served as the Budget Officer in the Office of the Secretary (OS). 

I am currently the Executive Officer, which means I am responsible for the management and execution of the Office of the Secretary’s budget. I work with OS staff to ensure that Secretarial initiatives and office needs are funded and supported. I also work with the Office of Administration to establish and enforce administrative policies and procedures for all OS offices.  

In the State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed three key principles, opportunity, action and optimism.  In tough budget circumstances, it is my job to work with the OS directors in creatively aiming to fulfill the Commerce Secretary’s mission using the funding we have. I am lucky to work with some incredibly enthusiastic individuals, and we strive as a team to get to the finish line. 

One of the persons who have influenced me to become who I am today would be my daughter Ciani, who I had at the age of 16!  What some considered being a mistake was a life lesson for me. Being a teen mom caused me to be extremely diligent to meet my objectives, to aim high, be resilient, and responsible.  It is important to me to provide her and her siblings with an example of what it means to dream big and overcome the roadblocks that may be set against you.  Because of that ambition, my daughter is in her freshman year at Virginia State University, obtaining her goals one by one and I couldn’t be prouder. 

New Manufacturing Institutes will Spur U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness

Across the country, communities are clamoring to land the next Manufacturing Innovation Institute, new “hubs” supported by the Obama Administration that are spurring the types of advanced technologies that will help grow the U.S. economy. Today, President Obama announced two new National Network for  Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, funded by the Department of Defense, which will focus on lightweight modern metals (Detroit) and digital manufacturing and design (Chicago). America’s leadership in cutting-edge technologies like these is exactly what we need to create high-quality jobs and opportunity here at home.

The whole idea behind the NNMI is to create public-private partnerships that bring together manufacturers, academics, and non-profits to bridge the gap between applied research and product development to ensure America remains globally competitive in the most exciting and promising emerging industries. In other words, NNMI institutes will help spur the technological advances needed to help the U.S. economy maintain its competitive edge. Here at Commerce, support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs is a key part of our “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Following the 2012 launch of a successful, additive manufacturing-focused NNMI pilot institute in Youngstown, Ohio, President Obama announced competitions in May 2013 to create three new institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five federal agencies – Commerce, Defense, Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. With today’s announcement, all three institutes have now been selected. 

But we are not stopping here. The President also announced a new competition today for the next manufacturing innovation institute, which will focus on advanced composites. This is the first of the four additional institutes the President committed to launching this year in his State of the Union address, for a total of eight institutes nationwide.

The President has called for building out the initial network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes to 45 over the next 10 years, which will require legislation from Congress. Getting this done is one of our top priorities at the Department of Commerce. With the enactment of current bipartisan and bicameral legislation, the “Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013,” we can open technology-neutral competitions that respond to much broader industry needs.

A strong manufacturing sector is critical to our intellectual and innovative capacity, and collaborative research between America’s leading manufacturers is essential to keeping our high-tech industries right here in the U.S. To learn more about NNMI and efforts to support advanced manufacturing, please visit:http://manufacturing.gov/nnmi.html.

Spotlight on Commerce: George E. Jenkins, National Institute for Standards and Technology

George E. Jenkins, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by George E. Jenkins, National Institute of Standards and Technology

I was born in Savannah, Georgia to parents whose myriad personal sacrifices, strong sense of excellence, and loving devotion to our family were tremendous examples for how to succeed to me and my brothers.

I was the valedictorian of my high school class, captain of three sports teams, a member of the Georgia Allstate Chorus for three consecutive years and a selected participant in the Governor’s Honors Program for Music. I subsequently received an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Bridgeport and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I am also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Upon graduating from college, I was hired by the international accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young). I was a senior accountant with responsibility for the audits of multibillion dollar Fortune 500 companies. Afterward, I joined the faculties of Cheney State University, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University, where I taught accounting and finance courses. Teaching and mentoring students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) was an enriching and rewarding experience. In fact, I later hired several of my mentees within the CPA firm that my brother and I owned and operated in Montgomery, AL for many years.

Our CPA firm delivered accounting and auditing services to professional athletes in all of the major sports, as well as, to a variety of large private corporate and government clients.

I began my federal service with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).  While working at CMS, I held the position of Deputy Director for the Financial Management Systems Group, which was responsible for over 40 financial management systems. I also played an integral part in the development and implementation of the Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS), which was one of the largest Oracle implementations in the world at the time, processing approximately 5 million Medicare claims daily.  I was an Associate Regional Administrator for Financial Management in Seattle, WA with oversight responsibilities for five western states. I received numerous awards such as the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award and the CMS Administrator’s Award on several occasions. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits Silicon Valley to Highlight Administration Support for Innovation Economy

Innovation is the key driver of U.S. economic competitiveness and job creation. That is why it is a key pillar of the Department of Commerce’s innovation agenda. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker made her first trip as Secretary to Silicon Valley to advance the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage innovation.

Secretary Pritzker made her first stop in Sunnyvale at the Plug and Play Tech Center, a business accelerator for tech startups. After touring Plug and Play, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Churchill Club, highlighting the Administration’s commitment to spurring U.S. economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness. She described the Commerce Department’s work to invest in digital infrastructure, strengthen intellectual property protections, and support advanced manufacturing, among other initiatives.

Secretary Pritzker also announced two new Commerce efforts to unleash more federal data for entrepreneurs and businesses, which are being spearheaded by the Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Census Bureau. NOAA has released a Request for Information to explore the feasibility of a public-private partnership to release more of the 20 terabytes of environmental and weather data that the agency collects each day. And the Census Explorer, an interactive map of demographics, is adding new tech workforce and payroll data, which will allow employers to see where the workers they need are living.

Noting the significant progress that the Administration has made to support science and technology, she even detailed how President Obama has done more for innovation than any other American President. “Simply put, I believe that President Obama has done more for innovation than any other President in history.”

Spotlight on Commerce: Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Spotlight on Commerce: Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Joyce Ward, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

I have the honor of serving as the Director of the Office of Education and Outreach at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I am fortunate to work with a dedicated, talented, and passionate team of people who believe deeply in the importance of educating, inspiring, and encouraging students and the people who educate them, whether they are teachers, parents, mentors, or members of the community.
 
Intellectual property (IP)—tangible ideas that can be bought and sold and traded—empowers people and has the potential to change society in ways both big and small. We’ve seen it over and over throughout our history with inventions such as the electric microphone, the artificial respirator, optical fiber, methods for storing blood, and countless other innovations that were developed by people with extraordinary ideas, vision, and sheer tenacity.
 
The Office of Education and Outreach is charged with developing, augmenting, and implementing education and outreach programming that increases knowledge and awareness of IP among stakeholders, and provides capacity building for future generations of inventors and innovators. To carry out that mission, we develop educational materials, build strategic partnerships, conduct professional development workshops for educators nationally, and provide hands-on experiences for students to help them make the connection between ideas and actualization.
 
I grew up in rural eastern North Carolina on Highway 58 between Wilson and Greene counties. The entrepreneurial spirit is in my DNA. Both of my parents were small business owners, and my great grandfather, first generation out of slavery, started his own business, which survived for close to 100 years. My father, a teacher by training, started a moving and storage company that evolved into a used furniture and antique shop. He also supported my mother in her business, which morphed from a gas station, convenience store, and used car lot to a restaurant and night club.

NOAA Moves to Unleash “Big Data” and Calls Upon American Companies to Help

Guest blog post by Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator 

From the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce, works to keep citizens informed about the changing environment around them. Our vast network of radars, satellites, buoys, ships, aircraft, tide gauges, and supercomputers keeps tabs on the condition of our planet’s health and provides critical data that are used to predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coastlines. As we continue to witness changes on this dynamic planet we call home, the demand for NOAA’s data is only increasing. 

Quite simply, NOAA is the quintessential big data agency. Each day, NOAA collects, analyzes, and generates over 20 terabytes of data – twice the amount of data than what is in the United States Library of Congress’ entire printed collection. However, only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public. 

NOAA is not the only Commerce agency with a treasure trove of valuable information. The economic and demographic statistics from the Census Bureau, for example, inform business decisions every day. According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute Report, open data could add more than $3 trillion in total value annually to the education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance sectors worldwide. That is why U.S. Secretary of  Commerce Penny Pritzker has made unleashing the power of Commerce data one of the top priorities of the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” 

Imagine the economic potential if more of these data could be released. Trillions more bytes of data from NOAA could help existing businesses, start-up companies, and even non-governmental organizations develop new and innovative products – products that might help us better understand our planet and keep communities, businesses, and ecosystems resilient from extreme events. 

It is a challenge that will take creative and unconventional thinking, and it is something we can’t tackle alone. 

Commerce Department Supports Efforts to Ensure American Workers Have the Necessary Skills for the In-Demand Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

As part of a government collaboration to prepare and place workers facing long-term unemployment into good jobs in high-demand industries, the Department of Labor announced yesterday the availability of approximately $150 million in grants as part of the “Ready to Work Partnership.”  Three weeks ago, President Obama signed a federal employer commitment and issued a Presidential Memorandum to address the issue of long-term unemployment and ensure that those who have been out of work for long periods of time are given a fair shot. The memorandum underscored the need for American workers to have the resources and training needed to acquire in-demand job skills.

The Commerce Department is playing a key role in this effort by partnering with businesses, as well as other federal agencies, to facilitate industry-driven workforce training programs. A strong and skilled workforce is a fundamental part of a competitive U.S. economy, driving economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment. That is why Secretary Pritzker has made workforce skills a top priority of the Commerce Department and is a key pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda.” In fact, she is the first Commerce Secretary to focus on skills training.

Before becoming Secretary of Commerce, Pritzker helped launch Skills for America’s Future, a national employer-led initiative to prepare workers for 21st century jobs, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a local intermediary in Chicago focused on the long-term unemployed. These two public-private partnerships align employer needs with training to prepare workers for positions that are available and set them on a real career path.

At an event hosted by the White House on January 31, Secretary Pritzker co-led a panel with CEOs who signed the White House pledge to support the long-term unemployed. She emphasized the value of employer-led partnerships to better inform demand-driven training efforts and ensure that workers have the training they need to be competitive in the global marketplace. The strength of the American workforce drives our economic recovery, so it is critical that the federal government take a leading role in investing in workforce training efforts. For these efforts to be successful, government must collaborate with stakeholders from the business community, educational and training institutions, labor unions, and state and local governments to make sure our training programs are more job-driven, integrated and effective.

Encouraging Innovation, Not Litigation

Secretary Pritzker at the White House promoting the Administration's Patent Action

Importance of Patent Reform

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for America’s private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

In 2012, economists at the U.S. Department of Commerce studied industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively, and found that these “IP-intensive industries” account for over one-third of our nation’s GDP, more than 60 percent of our exports, and nearly 28 percent of jobs. Clearly, IP protection is a pillar of the United States economy.

Department of Commerce’s Commitment

The Commerce Department is playing a major role in ensuring that the United States remains the world’s strongest ideas-driven economy with a 21st century patent system. A core part of the Commerce Department’s mission is to help American businesses build things here and sell them everywhere around the globe. That is why U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker made innovation a main pillar of the “Open for Business Agenda” that she launched in November to continue to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that drive innovation. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Supports Economic Cooperation at North American Leaders Summit

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined President Barack Obama and the U.S. delegation to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico. The trilateral meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada is an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss progress on a range of issues impacting North America, including trade and investment, economic competitiveness, and entrepreneurship. 

As part of the North American Leaders Summit, President Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) on Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses. This action directs the completion of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016, in order to reduce the costs of trade and allow companies to ship American-made goods more quickly. Currently, when businesses want to import or export goods, they must submit information, often in paper form, to a number of government agencies. The process of gaining approval on these submissions can take days.  The International Trade Data System will instead allow businesses to electronically transmit the required data through a “single window.” This EO will cut red tape, speed up shipment of American goods overseas, eliminate duplicative and burdensome paperwork, and improve government efficiency. 

During the NALS official meeting, Secretary Pritzker provided an overview of her work with her counterparts, Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal and Canadian Minister of International Trade Edward Fast, on the North American competitiveness work plan. Since being sworn in last June, Secretary Pritzker has been focused on increasing economic integration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada and has specifically worked on a number of issues on the agenda at the North American Leaders Summit. These include: creating a North American Trusted Traveler Program, which would allow vetted individuals to travel more easily between the U.S., Mexico and Canada; harmonizing trade data, consistent with international standards, to make it easier for companies to do business in the three countries; working on joint investment and tourism cooperation initiatives, including exchanging best practices; and creating a Trilateral Research, Development and Innovation Council, which will support the development of a network of entrepreneurs across the North American region. Additional information about the key deliverables from the Summit can be found here.

The North American economic relationship is one of the strongest in the world. The United States and Canada share the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, with more than $700 billion in two-way trade in goods and services annually and more than $600 billion in direct investment on both sides of the border. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade between the United States and Mexico was almost half a trillion dollars in 2012. Earlier this month, Secretary Pritzker led 17 export-ready U.S. companies on a five-day business development trade mission to Mexico, focusing on promoting U.S. exports to Mexico and further strengthening the U.S.-Mexico commercial relationship.

Collaborating with State and Local leaders on Cybersecurity

Collaborating with state and local leaders on cybersecurity

Guest Blog Post by Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Patrick D. Gallagher

Protecting our nation’s valuable information assets from hackers and other threats is often dependent on better collaborations—both public-private partnerships and state, local, and federal efforts.

NIST’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence is all about such partnerships. And that’s why I was honored to join U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Maryland Executive Isiah Leggett and Maryland’s Secretary of Economic Development Dominick Murray Tuesday to celebrate a new agreement that  extends public collaboration on this important topic. These same organizations joined me in Feb. 2012 to launch the center’s efforts to address various industries’ cybersecurity challenges and to accelerate the adoption of technologies that are based on standards and best practices. Since that time, the center has been bringing together experts from industry, government and academia to demonstrate integrated cybersecurity that is cost-effective, repeatable and scalable.

Eighteen IT industry leaders have joined our efforts through the National Cybersecurity Partnership initiative. Additional companies—both large and small—have worked with us on specific projects focused on health IT, energy, and financial services, with more to come, including efforts to support the recently released Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

The agreement signed by NIST, Maryland and Montgomery County provides the center a new home with an expanded footprint, both physical and programmatic, not far from NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., campus. It encourages technology transfer of government-developed technologies to companies for licensing and from one government agency to another. This collaboration also will help the state and county departments of economic development support new security technology companies and products, as well as to identify future workforce needs and provide opportunities for high school, college and graduate students.