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Blog Entries from March 2009

Secretary Locke Kicks Off 2010 Census 'One Year Out' Activities in First Public Event

Commer Secretary Locke gesturing on podium. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined 250 national partners from around the country today in launching outreach efforts for Census 2010 in his first public event. Locke stressed the importance of the national partners in the 2010 Census. “Today is my first day on the job, my first day at Commerce, and it’s a measure of the priority the Census is for me and my department, not to mention my appreciation of the work you do, that I’m here this morning,” Locke said. “I’m going to make sure the Census Bureau has the independent leadership it deserves and the professional oversight the American people demand.” (Remarks)

USPTO Seeks Nominees to Public Advisory Committees

USPTO seal.

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the Patent Public Advisory Committee and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee. The committees advise the agency on a wide variety of policy and budgetary issues. Members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Commerce. Member’s terms run for three years. Those appointed must have “substantial backgrounds and achievement in finance, management, labor relations, science, and technology and office automation.” (More)

U.S. Senate Confirms Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary

Photo of Gary Locke.

File Photo

The United States Senate confirmed Gary Locke as the nation’s 36th Commerce Secretary by unanimous consent. Secretary Locke will be a key member of President Obama’s economic team and will work to foster and promote American economic development at home, and will be an influential ambassador for American business and industry abroad. Locke is the first Chinese American to serve as Commerce Secretary. “I’m honored to take on this challenge and will work every day to make the Commerce Department an engine for improving our competitiveness, encouraging innovation and creating jobs,” Locke said. (More)

TV Converter Box Program Now Accepting Requests to Replace Expired Coupons for Transition to Digital TV

TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo. Click to visit DTV2009 Web site.

As the June 12 deadline for the nationwide conversion to digital TV approaches, the TV Converter Box Coupon Program has begun to accept replacement requests from eligible households whose coupons expired without being redeemed. Meanwhile, money allocated to the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has allowed NTIA to clear the digital converter box coupon waiting list. (More)

NIST Improves Microscope's Stability for Nanomanufacturing Biology

Ian an atomic force microscope (AFM), force is measured by a laser beam, yellow in this artist's rendition. AFM photo.

Photo: G. Kuebler/JILA/CU

A research team from the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado has improved by 100 times the stability of a workhorse tool in nanotechnology, known as the atomic force microscope, potentially improving a wide range of areas from nanomanufacturing to biology, where sensitive, atom-scale measurements must be made at room temperature in liquids. (More)

NOAA Seeks Proposals That Will Restore Coastal Habitat, Create Jobs, Stimulate Economy

ARRA 2009 logo.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA has begun accepting proposals for coastal habitat restoration projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The effort will foster healthy and resilient American communities while generating and protecting jobs for the thousands of people whose task it will be to restore valuable coastal and marine habitat. NOAA anticipates that up to $170 million may be available for coastal and marine habitat restoration; typical awards are expected to range between $1.5 million and $10 million. (More)

Census Bureau Releases Population Estimates for Nation's Metro Areas

Census Bureau logo.

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, were the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas between 2007 and 2008, according to July 1, 2008, population estimates for the nation’s metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas and counties released by the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. Raleigh-Cary saw its population climb 4.3 percent between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, to 1.1 million. Similarly, Austin-Round Rock experienced a 3.8 percent increase, to 1.7 million. These two large metro areas were among 47 of the 50 fastest-growing areas located entirely in the South or West. (More)

NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA Offer Flood Safety Tips for Flood Safety Awareness Week

Image of rescuers in boat on flooded city street. Click for larger image.

Floodwaters can be swift, powerful and, at times, deadly. However, advanced planning can help protect lives and minimize property losses due to flooding. With the spring thaw approaching, NOAA's National Weather Service and FEMA are partnering to observe the fifth annual Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 16-20, 2009. The National Weather Service, along with FEMA’s FloodSmart program, has launched a new Web page that shows the effects and cost of flooding to millions of people in the United States. (More)

Commerce's EDA Announces $150 Million in Recovery Funds to Create Jobs and Boost Development in Areas Hit Hard by Recession

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act logo.

As part of the U.S. Commerce Department’s appropriation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 recently signed by President Obama, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the availability of $150 million to create jobs and boost development in parts of the country hit hard by the recession. The Federal Funding Opportunity notice, published in the Federal Register, may be viewed at: (More)

Commerce, USDA and FCC Announce Public Meetings on Recovery Act's Broadband Initiatives

Seen on stage are Agriculture Secretary Vilsack at podium, and seated are Commerce Senior Advisor and Acting Chief of Staff Rick Wade, Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps and National Telecommunications and Information Administration Acting Administrator Anna Gomez. Click for larger image.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps and U.S. Department of Commerce Senior Advisor and Acting Chief of Staff Rick Wade kicked off the joint broadband initiative under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and announced a series of public meetings that will give Americans an opportunity to help shape the program. “President Obama believes in the power of broadband. Broadband deployment throughout the country will help drive the nation's economic recovery and growth," Wade said. (More)

Safer Net Surfing is Goal of NIST Domain Name Security Experts

Image of user log-on screen.

When you type—or the Web address of your bank or an e-commerce site—into your web browser, you want to be sure that no one is hijacking your request and sending you to a bogus look-alike page. You’re relying on the integrity of the Internet’s “phone book,” the Domain Name System (DNS). Computer scientists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are playing a major role in making sure that what you type is what you get by providing standards, guidance and testing necessary to bolster the trustworthiness of the global DNS. A draft update of NIST’s guidelines for DNS security is now available for public comment. (More)

NOAA Report Uncovers Why Some People Don?t Heed Severe Weather Warnings

Image of upside down mobile home after a tornado has struck. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s National Weather Service has issued a report that analyzes forecasting performance and public response during the second deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history.The report, Service Assessment of the Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak of February 5-6, 2008, also addresses a key area of concern: why some people take cover while others ride out severe weather. Dubbed the “Super Tuesday” tornado outbreak due to the presidential primary elections held that day, 82 tornadoes raked nine states throughout the South, killing 57 people, injuring 350 others and causing $400 million in property damage. (More)

Vilsack, Copps and Wade to Kick Off the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Broadband Initiative logo. Click to go to Web site.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairman Michael Copps and U.S. Department of Commerce Senior Advisor and Acting Chief of Staff Rick Wade will announce the kickoff March 10 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’s (ARRA) broadband initiative. Vilsack, Copps and Wade will discuss the implementation of the broadband initiatives funded by the ARRA, initiatives critical for building a 21st century information infrastructure and creating jobs in communities across the country. (More)

Minority Business Development Agency Marks 40 Years Promoting Competitive Business Growth

MBDA logo.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is celebrating four decades ofpromoting the establishment and growth of minority businesses. Throughout the year, the MBDA will be highlighting businesses that benefited from its programs and the people and communities it has impacted. MBDA’s Minority Business Blog ( which launched in conjunction with the 40th anniversary will tell success stories of minority businesses, offer tips and business solutions for minority entrepreneurs, as well as communicate up-to-date information affecting the minority business community. (More) (Blog)

Commerce's NTIA Begins to Clear TV Converter Box Coupon Request Waiting List

TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo. Click for DTV2009 Web site.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Communications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that the agency has begun to clear its waiting list for requests to the TV Converter Box Coupon Program as a result of additional funds provided by Congress. “NTIA expects to eliminate the current waiting list within two to three weeks,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Anna Gomez. “This is good news for the more than two million households on the waiting list…” she said. (More)

New Deep-Sea Coral Discovered on NOAA-Supported Mission

Image of orange bamboo coral is another new species and new genus found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. It is between four and five feet tall, and was found 5,745 feet below the surface. Click for larger image.

Scientists identified seven new species of bamboo coral discovered on a NOAA-funded mission in the deep waters of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Six of these species may represent entirely new genera, a remarkable feat given the broad classification a genus represents. A genus is a major category in the classification of organisms, ranking above a species and below a family. Scientists expect to identify more new species as analysis of samples continues. (More)

Economic Development Administration Excellence Awards 2009

Economic Development Administration seal.

Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Excellence in Economic Development Awards 2009 recognize innovative economic development projects or strategies of national significance. The awards are designed to showcase best practices and highlight outstanding results. EDA is currently accepting entries for Excellence in Economic Development Awards 2009. The awards are commemorative and will be presented by senior officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce in ceremonies in the winners’ respective communities. Members of the winners’ congressional delegations will be invited to join in the award presentation. (More)