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Blog Entries from January 2010

Secretary Locke Statement on Advance Estimate of GDP in the Fourth Quarter 2009

Commerce seal

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released the advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2009. Real GDP rose 5.7 percent at an annual rate, the second consecutive advance and the strongest increase since the third quarter of 2003. "Today's strong GDP showing represents important economic progress that must now be translated into new jobs," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke to Lead Administration's First Cabinet-Level Trade Mission

Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Delivering the keynote address at the U.S.-China Business Council’s Forecast 2010 conference, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced he will lead the Obama administration’s first cabinet-level trade mission when he travels to China and Indonesia this May. The clean energy business development missions will promote exports of leading U.S. technologies related to clean energy, energy efficiency and electric energy storage, transmission, and distribution. The mission will take place May 15-25, and make stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, China, and Jakarta, Indonesia. (More) (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Reports on Commerce Department's 2009 Successes, 2010 Plans

Image capture of Locke and video player. Click to go to Cabinet reports page for video links.

In a new video collage on the White House Web site, Secretary Gary Locke reports back to the American people on everything the U.S. Department of Commerce has accomplished in the first year of the Obama administration and its goals for the year ahead. “Like the President,” Secretary Locke notes, in 2010, “we will be working every day to ensure that every American who wants a job can get one.” The collage also features video of all of the other Cabinet Heads discussing the success and futures of their own departments and agencies. (Video Cabinet agency reports)

Secretary Locke Meets with Russia's Economic Minister, Takes Part in MIT Technology Program

Elvira Nabiullina, Russian Minister of Economic Development, and Commerce Sevretary Locke shake hands at July 2009 meeting in Moscow. File photo.

Nabiullina, Locke, July 2009 file photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Ms. Elvira Nabiullina at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass. The two officials, who previously met at the July 2009 Moscow Summit, held their first meeting in their capacities as co-chairs of the Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. (More)

NIST Issues First Release of Framework for Smart Grid Interoperability

Satellite image of North America at night showing electrical illumniation and outline of grid. Click for larger image.

Photo: NASA

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued an initial list of standards, a preliminary cyber security strategy, and other elements of a framework to support transforming the nation’s aging electric power system into an interoperable “Smart Grid,” a key component of the Obama administration’s energy plan and its strategy for American innovation. By integrating digital computing and communication technologies and services with the power-delivery infrastructure, the Smart Grid will enable bidirectional flows of energy and two-way communication and control capabilities. (More) (Release)

Alaska: 2010 Census is Underway in Noorvik

Groves in dogsled. Click for larger image.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves traveled by dog sled today and visited residents in the remote Alaskan village of Noorvik, north of the Arctic Circle. There he met with the mayor and local leaders before a team of huskies guided him to a local residence to perform the first 2010 Census enumeration. Census takers must get a head start in Noorvik and other villages in remote Alaska before residents leave for hunting and fishing grounds and while the ground is frozen, which allows access to the region by bush plane, dog sled and snowmobile. (2010 Census Web site)

NOAA, Google Join Forces to Visualize Scientific Data

NOAA logo. Click to go to NOAA home page.

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and Google have signed a cooperative research and development agreement outlining how they will work together to create state-of-the-art visualizations of scientific data to illustrate how our planet works. Under the agreement, NOAA and Google plan to work together on research and development to join NOAA’s oceanographic, meteorological, biological, and climatological data with Google’s software capabilities. The wide availability of Google’s Internet tools has the potential to bring visualizations of NOAA data to new audiences around the world. (More)

Department of Commerce Issues report for Vice President's Middle Class Task Force

Biden, Sibellius, Locke and Chu seated at table.

The Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration issued a new report for Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force: Middle Class in America. The report, which identifies what it means to be middle class in America today, uses a host of measures to show that it is more difficult today to both attain and maintain a middle-class lifestyle than it was two decades ago. “This report highlights the gravity of the economic realities facing American families aspiring to a middle-class lifestyle," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Report—PDF) (White House press release) (Middle Class Task Force Web site)

Commerce Secretary Locke Greets Department Employees with First Lady Michelle Obama

Obamas on podium with Commerce employees behind and Locke looking on ffrom the right. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to the department as part of her goal to visit each cabinet agency. Today’s was her 15th agency visit. With some of the longest-serving employees behind her, she thanked all Commerce Department employees for the work they do every day to make businesses more competitive and create jobs. (Secretary’s remarks) (Additional photo 1) (Additional photo 2)

Census Bureau Launches in Spanish

Censo2010 logo. Click to go to Web site.

With an innovative, unique and digitally rich experience, the U.S.Census Bureau launched its 2010 Census Spanish language Web site, The site’s goal is to inform the more than 34 million Spanish-speaking people about the 2010 Census and to demonstrate to the Hispanic community that participation is easy, important and safe. The new Web site is an interactive experience, allowing users to preview the 10 questions on the 2010 Census form in Spanish via an interactive application. The site reinforces the message that answers provided in the 2010 Census are strictly confidential and protected by law. (More) (Web site)

NOAA: December Global Ocean Temperature Second-Warmest on Record

Image of the world's oceans.

The global ocean surface temperature was the second-warmest on record for December, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and based on records going back to 1880. Scientists also reported the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the eighth-warmest on record for December. For 2009, global temperatures tied with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record. Also, the earth’s land surface for 2009 was seventh-warmest (tied with 2003) and the ocean surface was fourth-warmest (tied with 2002 and 2004.) (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on New Residential Construction in December 2009

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in November 2009. Permits rose 6.0 percent in November and starts increased 8.9 percent, in both cases exceeding market expectations. Permits have risen 17.3 percent above their low in April, and starts have advanced 19.8 percent above their April low point. These gains reflected increases in single-family activity, while multi-family starts have increased modestly. (More) (Release)

NOAA Produces Images of Haiti for First Responders

Photo of plane. Click for larger image.

A specially-equipped NOAA jet conducted aerial surveys of earthquake-stricken Haiti on Jan. 17 and 18 as part of the agency’s effort to help responders assess damage and plan recovery efforts. The aircraft is equipped with high-resolution digital cameras and other sensors that collect data vital to disaster response, scientific research and environmental resource management efforts. “NOAA maintains some of the nation’s premier emergency response services,” said Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are proud to be of service in offering experts and expertise to help the people of Haiti during this heartbreaking time.” (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces Plans for Forum on R&D Commercialization at Universities

Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Photo: National Press Club

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today his plans to host a forum with university leaders and key stakeholders on the roles of universities in innovation, economic development, job creation, and commercialization of federally funded research next month in Washington, D.C. “It’s not tenable for the United States to continue with the status quo,” Locke said at the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship event. (More) (Remarks)

Commerce Department Mobilizes to Assist Relief Efforts in Haiti

Help for Haiti icon. Click to go to Web site.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is mobilizing to assist in the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. “In response to President Obama’s pledge of support, the Department of Commerce has mobilized resources to assist the Haitian people,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Commerce’s NOAA is sending a multi-tiered disaster response team to conduct emergency surveys and damage assessment of key Haitian ports. BIS is expediting the licensing process to speed up the export of humanitarian items. For more information on the effort and what you can do to help, visit the White House’s site on earthquake relief. (More) (Haiti Earthquake Relief Web site)

Secretary Locke, Senator Begich Meet with Alaska Business and 2010 Census Leaders in Anchorage

Locke and participants at roundtable.

U.S. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) in Anchorage today for a series of meetings to discuss trade expansion, rural development and the 2010 Census. Locke and Begich hosted a roundtable discussion with Alaska business leaders on potential trade expansion between Alaska and Pacific Rim countries, and discussed rural development with the Denali Commission.The pair also toured the Anchorage census office to meet with statewide Complete Count Committee members in advance of this year’s 2010 Census. (Remarks)

NOAA Satellites Help Rescue 195 People in 2009

Image of COSPAS-SARSAT Systems overview. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s fleet of satellites played a vital role in the rescues of 195 people during life-threatening situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters in 2009. In each incident, NOAA satellites pinpointed these downed pilots, shipwrecked mariners, or stranded hikers by detecting a distress signal from an emergency beacon and relaying the information to first responders on the ground. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system, called COSPAS-SARSAT. (More) (Rescue at sea photo)

Census Launches 2010 Census Advertising Campaign to Boost Mail-Back Participation Rates

Image of people attending event with tent inside of Ronald Reagan Building. Click for larger image.

The U.S. Census Bureau today unveiled its national advertising campaign for the 2010 Census, which seeks to boost the national mail-back participation rate by increasing awareness and educating the public about the importance of participating in the once-a-decade headcount. The $133 million campaign builds on the success of the 2000 Census efforts, where the Census Bureau used paid advertising for the first time and reversed a three-decade decline in public response rates by mail. (More) (Director’s blog) (Road Tour blog)

Secretary Locke Statement on December 2009 Retail Sales

Locke speaking from lectern.

File photo

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau released retail sales data for December 2009. Retail sales declined 0.3 percent, following strong monthly gains in October and November. Sales rose 7.0 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, following a gain of 6.4 percent in the third quarter. “While the overall trend is in the right direction, today’s retail sales data show that we have more work to do,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Report)

Secretary Locke Announces $7.5 Million in Recovery Act Investment to Increase Broadband Access in LA

Locke, Boxer and Villaraigosa at table with young child.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was joined by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a South Los Angeles WorkSource Center to announce a $7.5 million Recovery Act grant to upgrade and expand 188 computer centers that provide the public with free broadband access to the Internet. The grant to the Los Angeles’ Computer Access Network will help bridge the technological divide and improve access to job and computer training and educational opportunities. (More) (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Statement on November 2009 Trade in Goods and Services Report

Department of Commerce seal

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the November 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 0.9 percent to $138.2 billion since October 2009. Imports increased 2.6 percent to $174.6 billion. (More) (Fact Sheet) (Release)

USPTO to Hold Live Online Chat for Independent Inventors

Photo of inventors with large-screen monitor. Clcik to go to home page of USPTO Web site.

File Photo

Senior officials of the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO) will be available live online Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. (EST), answering questions and offering tips for independent inventors. Instructions for taking part in the online chat will be posted on the USPTO Web site at 10 a.m. (EST) Tuesday. Inventors can begin logging on for the chat at 1:30 p.m. The independent inventor on-line chat is part of the USPTO’s continuing effort to promote and protect America’s independent inventor community. (More)

NOAA Ranks December Snowstorm a Category 3 on Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale

Graphic of snowfall accumulation from Dec. 18-21, 2009 storm. Click for larger image

To the surprise of no one affected by the Dec. 18-20, 2009 system that dumped heavy snow from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England, NOAA has rated the storm a Category 3 or “Major” winter storm on NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, also known as NESIS. Topping the NESIS scale—and the only storms rated Category 5—are the “Superstorm” on March, 1993 followed by the “Blizzard of ’96” in January, 1996. The scale, developed in 2004, catalogues storms dating back to 1888. (More)

NIST Awards $27 Million in Recovery Act Grants to Construct New Research Facilities

Artist's drawing of proposed facility at Nova Southeastern Niversity. Click for larger image.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded more than $123 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at 11 universities and one non-profit research organization. With ultimate research targets ranging from off-shore wind power and coral reef ecology to quantum physics and nanotechnology, the 12 projects will launch more than $250 million in new laboratory construction projects beginning early this year. (More)

Secretary Locke Urges New Emphasis on Innovation, R&D, to Increase Competitiveness and Create Jobs

Secretary Locke at podium. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to discuss approaches to fixing an "innovation deficit" hindering America's ability to develop new businesses and create new jobs. PCAST is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers who provide advice to President Obama, offering insights and policy recommendations concerning a full range of issues in science, technology, and innovation. PCAST is administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). (Remarks)