Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank , Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In January, President Obama issued an executive order  outlining his plan to create a 21st century regulatory system that encourages job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. The idea was to make it simpler, smarter and more efficient, while still protecting the health and safety of the American people. As a key part of that plan, he called upon government agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations currently on the books and to remove those that are outdated, unnecessary or excessively burdensome.
This review has led agencies, including the Department of Commerce, to identify initiatives that have the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens and billions of dollars in regulatory costs. Today, the results of each agency’s review is being made public and posted on Whitehouse.gov.
Here at the Commerce Department, we focused our plan on those bureaus with the greatest regulatory activity: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
At Commerce, BIS has a responsibility for issuing licenses for potentially sensitive products, making sure that they don’t wind up in the wrong hands. (BIS shares this responsibility with the Departments of State and Defense.) But the system is badly in need of updating and filled with too many redundancies. As part of the President’s Export Control Reform Initiative, BIS, Defense and State are preparing rules that will transfer jurisdiction over less significant defense articles that are today controlled by State to the more flexible regulations administered by Commerce. This plan will enhance national security by allowing BIS to increase its focus on the most critical national security priorities. It will also significantly reduce the licensing and other burdens on U.S. businesses seeking to export what they make, while at the same time harmonizing the system to allow for the eventual creation of a single list of controlled items administered by a single licensing agency.
At the USPTO, 10 rules were identified to be updated and streamlined that significantly impact day-to-day operations and the high volume of patent applications the agency processes. Seemingly simple revisions to these rules have the potential to generate immediate, significant, and widespread benefits for patent applicants. At the same time, given the large number of patent applications the agency receives, these improvements can result in both internal efficiencies and substantial cost savings that can have a considerable impact on the USPTO’s operations.
Along with the initiatives put forth by our other bureaus, these regulatory efficiencies will help the Commerce Department and the federal government as a whole serve its customers better and save taxpayer money, and that will support economic growth and job creation in America. We are committed to reducing burdens for American businesses and consumers and expanding opportunities for public participation, and with the feedback we get from the public, we are constantly exploring what works and what doesn’t to improve our regulatory system.