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Blog Entries from April 2009

Secretary Locke, Governor O'Malley Urge Americans to Get Ready for TV Transition

Residents of Liberty Senior Center listen as Secretary Locke addresses the group. Click for larger image.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley encouraged Americans to prepare for the June 12 switch to digital television at a community gathering at Liberty Senior Center in Randallstown, Maryland. Secretary Locke commended local volunteers who are assisting senior citizens who rely on over-the-air television in their community with the upcoming digital transition. “The national switch to digital television is just around the corner, and there won’t be another delay,” said Secretary Locke. (More)

Salazar and Locke Restore Scientific Consultation under the Endangered Species Act to Protect Species and their Habitats

Image of sea turtle underwater. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the two departments are revoking an eleventh hour Bush administration rule that undermined Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—the two agencies that administer the ESA—before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species. (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Meets with China's Minister of Commerce

Secretary Locke and MinisterChen shake hands, with U.S. and Chinese flags in the background.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming at the Commerce Department. The Secretary and Minister Chen reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to continuing to build a positive and cooperative relationship that strengthens trade and creates jobs in the United Statesand China. The two leaders underscored the importance of achieving concrete results at the next meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and discussed issues such as increasing U.S. exports to China and the need to avoid protectionism. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on World IP Day

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke released the following statement on World Intellectual Property Day: “U.S. companies are among the most innovative in the world. As we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day we are reminded of the important role intellectual property rights play in stimulating American ingenuity and spurring economic growth and jobs. Unfortunately, counterfeiting and piracy take an enormous toll on American industry and workers, costing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. The Department of Commerce is working to combat this problem through trade agreement compliance, active engagement with foreign leaders, and educational outreach.” (More)

Residential Mover Rate in U.S. is Lowest Since Census Bureau Began Tracking in 1948

Bureau of the Census seal.

Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau announced that the national mover rate declined from 13.2 percent in 2007 to 11.9 percent in 2008—the lowest rate since the bureau began tracking these data in 1948. In 2008, 35.2 million people 1 year and older changed residences in the U.S. within the past year, representing a decrease from 38.7 million in 2007 and the smallest number of residents to move since 1962. “Even though the number of people who changed residence in 2008 dropped by 3.5 million from the previous year, millions of Americans continue to move,” said Tom Mesenbourg, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “As we gear up for the 2010 Census, we will be looking to get an accurate count of everyone in the country, regardless of whether they moved in the past year or not.” (More)

Researchers Give High Marks to New Technology for Fingerprint Identification

Image of fingerprint. Click for larger image.

Overworked crime scene investigators can take heart at the results of recent tests at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of new technologies that automate the manual portion of latent fingerprint identification. Prototype systems evaluated by NIST performed surprisingly well for a developing technology: half of the prototypes were accurate at least 80 percent of the time and one had a near perfect score. Automating the manual portion of the work frees up time for trained examiners to spend time on very difficult images that the software has little hope of processing. (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Addresses Motion Picture Summit

Secretary Locke at podium during remarks to Summit.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke talked about the motion picture industry’s importance to the U.S. economy at the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) Second Biennial Industry Summit. “Movies and TV shows are direct products of the freedoms we enjoy; that’s part of why they’re so popular around the world,” Locke said. “The Obama administration is well aware of the impact of counterfeiting and piracy on our industries and workers, and we’re working to combat it.” (Remarks) (

Secretary Locke Announces $5.25 Million Investment in Arkansas Job Creation, Economic Development

EDA seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, on his first official trip since taking office, presented $5.25 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to create jobs and strengthen the Arkansas economy in the wake of the severe storms, flooding and tornados that occurred in 2008. Locke was joined by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Sen. Mark Pryor.“The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s competitiveness,” Locke said. (Remarks)

Vice President Biden and Secretary Locke Outline Funding for Smart Grid Initiatives

Vice President Biden and Commerce Secretary Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Jefferson City, Mo. with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, detailed plans by the Department of Energy to develop a smart, strong and secure electrical grid, which will create new jobs and help deliver reliable power more effectively with less impact on the environment to customers across the nation. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Vice President and Secretary outlined plans to distribute more than $3.3 billion in Smart Grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for Smart Grid storage, monitoring and technology viability. (White House Release) (Secretary’s Remarks)

NOAA Dedicates New Chesapeake Bay Research Vessel

Image of the R/V Bay Hyrdo II speeding through the water. Click for larrger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) christened a new state-of-the-art research vessel, R/V Bay Hydro II, which will collect oceanographic data in the Chesapeake Bay region—data critical to safe navigation and environmental protection in the nation’s largest estuary. The dedication took place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, featuring a ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle over the bow and a cannon salute from the USS Constellation. (More)

NIST Announces Three-Phase Plan for Smart Grid Standards, Paving Way for More Efficient, Reliable Electricity

Image of electricity-producing wind farm. Click for larger image.

Photo: Shutterstock

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to moving the nation toward energy independence, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a three-phase plan to expedite development of key standards for a Smart Grid, a nationwide network that uses information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely. The recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contains investments critical to spurring the Smart Grid development process. The Smart Grid will allow wind farms to send their energy farther from their source. (More) (NIST Recovery Act Information)

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Statement on Trade Numbers

DOC seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the February 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports increased by 1.6 percent to $126.8 billion since January 2009. Imports decreased 5.1 percent to $152.7 billion. Overall, the trade deficit shrank 28.3 percent during the same time period. (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Meets with Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong for First Courtesy Visit

The Secretary and Ambassador greet one another with a handshake. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with China’s Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the Commerce Department, the first visit by a foreign ambassador to the Secretary. Zhou has been the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. since 2005. Secretary Locke is the first Chinese American to serve as Commerce Secretary and was the first Chinese American governor in U.S. history. Secretary Locke is committed to continue building a positive and cooperative relationship between the U.S. and China to create jobs and strengthen the economy.

National Trademark Expo Set for USPTO Campus May 8-9

Kiosk with sign publicizing expo.

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will present a National Trademark Expo May 8 and 9. A ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. will kick off the two day event. The Expo will be held on the agency’s campus in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to Trademark Exhibitors, local businesses will also participate in the Expo. The Expo will highlight anti-counterfeiting efforts and how counterfeit goods cause great harm to the economy. The Expo is free, fun and informative for the whole family. (More)

NOAA Submits Proposed Recovery Plan to Congress to Help Create Jobs, Improve Coastal Communities and Protect Habitat

ARRA logo. Click to go to

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) submitted to Congress its proposed Recovery plan to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and restore our environment. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NOAA was provided $830 million. NOAA estimates its planned expenditures will create a significant number of new jobs and strengthen the economy, spurring the creation of additional jobs.NOAA’s investments in weather forecasting and research, fisheries, ocean and coastal management are aimed at safeguarding lives and putting Americans to work. (More)

Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Groves as Census Director

Bureau of the Census seal.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Robert Groves as the new Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke released the following statement: “The decennial Census faces significant challenges, but I am confident that Robert’s leadership will help us meet those challenges. He is a respected social scientist who will run the Census Bureau with integrity and independence.” As Census Director, Groves will report to Secretary Locke. (Statement) (White House Release)

Secretary Locke Addresses Importance of Broadband to Nation's Economic Recovery and Growth

Locke holding microphone. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke highlighted the importance of broadband to the nation’s economic recovery and growth at the opening of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s 2009 National Cable Show. Locke highlighted the Broadband Initiatives funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which are critical for building a 21st century information infrastructure and creating jobs in unserved, underserved and rural communities across the country. ”Access to high-speed Internet networks opens doors to the world. . . and is fundamental to this country’s economic growth,” Locke said.

Secretary Locke Encourages U.S. Latinos To Be Counted in Census 2010

Secretary Locke speaking from podium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in the kick off of an historic national campaign at the National Press Club to urge the nearly 50 million U.S. Latinos to fully participate in the 2010 Census. Locke joined the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and other partners at the launch of the ya es hora !HAGASE CONTAR! (It’s Time, Make Yourself Count!) campaign. “Bringing the right numbers to your communities means bringing economic empowerment. And you have not left the work to the Census Bureau alone,” Locke said. “You are leading the way and taking charge of your destiny. Yes. It is time.” (Remarks)

NOAA: Early Warning System Forecasts Deadly Mudslides

Image of van trapped in debris. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a prototype debris flow warning system using weather forecasts and precipitation measurements along with regional USGS rainfall rate thresholds to determine the probability of debris flows. In the United States, approximately 25 to 50 deaths a year can be attributed to the phenomenon of debris flow—or mudslides as they are more commonly known—with monetary losses exceeding $2 billion annually. (More)