This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Blog Entries from December 2014

Top 20 Instagram Photos of 2014

Secretary Pritzker joined Instagram on January 31st and shared photos of her at big events and behind the scenes. Below we've rounded up twenty of the best photos to summarize the year and the progress on the Open for Business Agenda.


#WakeUp I start with my #MorningRun #DayInTheLife

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Jan 1, 2014 at 3:02am PST


#WakeUp I start with my #MorningRun #DayInTheLife


Back in the office today after a successful trade mission to #Mexico. #DayInTheLife

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Feb 2, 2014 at 7:25am PST


Back in the office today after a successful trade mission to #Mexico. #DayInTheLife


#whatwomenneed is more leadership opportunities and equal pay

A photo posted by Secretary Penny Pritzker (@pennypritzker) on Feb 2, 2014 at 3:41pm PST


#whatwomenneed is more leadership opportunities and equal pay

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day

Census Bureau Projects U.S. and World Populations on New Year’s Day

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the United States population will be 320,090,857 on Jan. 1, 2015. This represents an increase of 2,334,187, or 0.73 percent, from New Year’s Day 2014, and 11,345,319, or 3.67 percent, since Census Day (April 1) 2010.

In January 2015, the U.S. is expected to experience a birth every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 33 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 16 seconds.

The projected world population on Jan. 1, is 7,214,958,996, an increase of 77,381,246, or 1.08 percent, from New Year’s Day 2014. During January 2015, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.

The Census Bureau’s Pop Clock displays real-time growth of the U.S. and world populations.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor the Holiday Season

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.

$24.4 billion

Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2013. This represents an estimated 40.9 percent jump from the previous month when retail sales were estimated at 17.3 billion. No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large. 


The estimated percentage of total 2013 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the estimated percentage was 19.1 percent.

$44.5 billion

Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2013 — the highest total for any month last year.

$1.0 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2014. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($137.5 million worth) during the same period.


The number of locations that primarily produced dolls, toys, and games in 2012; they employed 7,481 workers in the pay period including March 12.  California led the nation with 95 establishments.

For more information and other key statistics on the holidays, please go to the latest issue of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features.

Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation’s Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates released today. Florida’s population grew by 293,000 over this period, reaching 19.9 million. The population of New York increased by 51,000 to 19.7 million.

California remained the nation’s most populous state in 2014, with 38.8 million residents, followed by Texas, at 27.0 million. Although the list of the 10 most populous states overall was unchanged, two other states did change positions, as North Carolina moved past Michigan to take the ninth spot.

Another milestone took place in Georgia (ranked 8th), which saw its population surpass 10 million for the first time.

North Dakota was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2 percent, followed by the 1.7 percent growth in Nevada and Texas. Each of the 10 fastest-growing states was in the South or West with the exception of North Dakota. 

Six states lost population between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014: Illinois (9,972 or -0.08 percent), West Virginia (3,269 or -0.18 percent), Connecticut (2,664 or -0.07 percent), New Mexico (1,323 or -0.06 percent, Alaska (527 or -0.07 percent) and Vermont (293 or -0.05 percent).

The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.4 million to 318.9 million, or 0.75 percent.

In addition to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the new statistics also include estimates for Puerto Rico. On July 1, 2014, Puerto Rico had an estimated population of 3.5 million, a decline of 47,000, or 1.3 percent, from one year earlier.

The Census Bureau produces population estimates each year, allowing the public to gauge the growth and demographic composition of the nationstates and communities. These statistics use administrative data to estimate population change between census years, using the decennial census count as a starting point. Local governments use estimates to locate services, and estimates are used by the private sector to locate businesses.

The Census Bureau also released today estimates of the number of people 18 and older in the U.S., states and Puerto Rico. The downloadable file also includes total population and the percentage of people 18 and older. Internet address:

During 2015, the Census Bureau will release estimates of the 2014 population of counties, cities and towns, and metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.

Business Sunday Comes to South Florida

By Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami and Josh Dickson, Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Commerce

Earlier this month, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Miami hosted its first Business Sunday at Samaritan Christian Center in Hallandale Beach, Florida, in partnership with the Miami District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Hallandale Parks and Recreation Department, the Hallandale Beach Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA), Career Source South Florida, the City of Miami and ACCION USA. Business Sunday is a program focused on promoting local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with the valuable business development resources offered by the Federal Government.  A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Minority Business Development Agency and BusinessUSA Business Sunday builds ladders of opportunity by meeting people where they are at and ensuring they have access to everything they need to start or grow their business.

Business Sunday in Hallandale Beach featured business development presentations from MBDA and SBA at Samaritan Christian Center, followed by a two-hour, one-on-one networking and information-sharing session at the Community Center at Foster Park. In her presentation, Ms. Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami, explained the various services that are available from federal agencies, provided information on resources available through the BusinessUSA website and highlighted ways that the MBDA Business Center can support the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses through access to capital, access to contracts and access to domestic and global markets. She also discussed the various collaborations the Center has formed - including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the SBA - to provide the requisite level of support for MBDA’s clients. In addition, Ms. Althea Harris, a Program Director at the Miami District Office of the SBA, provided information on services and resources available directly from the SBA and its program partners.

During his presentation, Bishop Adderley, speaking to the 250-person congregation, thanked MBDA, SBA and all the supporting partners for choosing Hallandale Beach to launch Business Sunday in South Florida. “It is wonderful that these programs and resources are being brought directly to us in our community,” he said, “and I encourage all members attending, and those listening and watching online, to take advantage of these opportunities.”

As a result of this first initiative, the MBDA Business Center in Miami will embark on a new collaboration with the City of Hallandale Beach CRA in order to more easily access local businesses and to provide specialized consulting services and managerial coaching to minority-owned businesses.

Intellectual Property Attachés Discuss Protecting U.S. Interests Abroad

Intellectual Property Attachés Discuss Protecting U.S. Interests Abroad

The United States Patent and Trademark Office hosted its annual Intellectual Property (IP) Attaché consultations at its Alexandria, Va. headquarters during the week of December 15. Each year since 2007, participants from the USPTO and other government agencies, organizations, associations, and universities attend the event to exchange information about international IP issues and the work of USPTO’s IP attachés. The consultations provide a platform for all 11 IP attachés to share their accomplishments, participate in briefings on patent, trademark, and copyright developments in the United States, and collaborate with other organizations, stakeholders, and foreign IP attachés. The consultations enable information exchange and coordination with U.S. stakeholders, with a goal of improving IP protection and enforcement abroad.

The USPTO IP AttachĂ© Program assigns experts to U.S. embassies or consulates overseas to represent the USPTO and advocate U.S. government policy positions on IP. IP attachĂ©s have assisted many industry associations, businesses, and other U.S. stakeholders in their efforts to protect and enforce their IP rights and navigate local IP laws in regions around the world. Each IP attachĂ© has expertise in the fields of international IP law, policy and enforcement. 

In the week prior to the Alexandria meetings IP attachés met with the public in San Francisco and San Jose, including representatives from high tech organizations, legal associations, and universities. These consultations provided education and built contacts with a broad range of organizations interested in learning more about the IP Attaché Program and U.S. government IP policy overseas.

The consultations also included a half-day discussion sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where IP attachés exchanged views with chamber members and the public on various international IP issues. The discussion centered on ensuring that IP systems help protect U.S. interests abroad while reducing trade barriers and encouraging strong economic growth.

During a career roundtable webcast, USPTO employees discussed potential career opportunities with the public and explained what it is like to work as an IP attaché. Participants asked questions and heard first-hand some of the accomplishments and challenges faced by IP attachés while on assignment. If you missed this roundtable, you can view the webcast on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.

The USPTO extends its gratitude to all those who participated in the IP attaché consultations and to those who contributed to making the event a productive exchange of information, helping to reinforce a strong and effective IP system worldwide. Visit the IP Attaché Program on the USPTO website to learn more about it.

25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Concludes with Key Outcomes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chicago, IL

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access:  China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-Ă -vis China.
  • IPR protection:  China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections.  The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies:  The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China.  For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights.  China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors.  Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and supports a total of 3.4 million jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion.  The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013. 
  • Competition policy enforcement:  The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement.  The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings.  China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Guest blog post by Raul Cisneros, director, Center for New Media and Promotion and Rebecca Blash, chief, Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation (CEDSCI), U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to operational excellence by making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible than ever before. In an age of instant communication and 24/7 information sharing, the needs and expectations of the Census Bureau’s data users have changed. We have listened to our customers, and this is what we have heard: Our users want easy access to timely, relevant statistics. They want access anywhere and anytime.  And, they want their data to be shareable, embeddable, downloadable and customizable.

In response, the Census Bureau has undertaken a comprehensive digital transformation effort, developing new tools using the latest technologies.  Almost 50 million people visit annually, and we’ve made major improvements to the site so that they can more easily find the information they want. We also created an application programming interface (API) to increase the accessibility and usability of our data. The API gives developers quick and easy access to an ever-increasing pool of publicly available data, allowing them to create Web or mobile apps. More than 7,000 developers have requested access to the API, and the databases have been queried more than 600 million times. Because these apps subsequently reach new users, they have the added benefit of increasing the circulation of our demographic, socioeconomic and housing statistics even more.

We also want to make our data accessible and appealing to as wide an audience as possible. Our three mobile apps are a good example of this. America’s Economy provides real-time updates of 20 key economic indicators, making it easy for casual or serious followers of the U.S. economy to see the latest trends. Our two other tools, dwellr (an app that helps users discover cities and towns that fit their lifestyle) and Census PoP Quiz (a population challenge quiz), tap into statistical information from the American Community Survey for casual data users.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

The 2014 hurricane season is over and, once again, no major hurricanes (Category 3 of higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) struck the United States. That's a record nine years in row! Of course, it's foolish to believe this remarkable streak will last, and we have to be ready for it to end next season. 

The stakes couldn't be higher. In its latest figures, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau finds 185 coastal counties along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, home to 58 million people, at risk to a hurricane. It all comes down to preparation, education and accurate forecasting. It's easy to see why one of NOAA's primary goals is to provide the information and services to help communities become more resilient. 

With that in mind, this year the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to complement its text-only product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. This new outlook provided easy to understand graphics depicting the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones over a five day period. The hurricane center also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlighted those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. This information was vital for emergency management authorities and the public in the affected areas. 

Additionally, upgrades to NOAA’s newest hurricane model, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF), produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season. The model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on tropical cyclones around the world and is used by several international operational forecast agencies. All of these improvements are an integral part of the ongoing evolution currently underway at NOAA's National Weather Service.

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership
JCCT Day One Emphasizes A Shared Vision of Global Economic Partnership

Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Froman, along with a high-level Government of China delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang, kicked off a day of side events with American and Chinese private sector leaders around the Joint Commission on Trade and Commerce (JCCT). For the first time, the JCCT schedule included a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments.  

Thirty-one years after the JCCT’s inception, Secretary Pritzker, Ambassador Froman and Vice Premier Wang Yang committed to re-imagining the JCCT. Their hope is for the JCCT to serve as more of a platform for government leaders to hear from the business community, as well as continue to serve as a forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

In the morning, both delegations participated in a roundtable with 24 business leaders from the U.S. and China, sponsored by the Paulson Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. During the roundtable discussion, government and business leaders discussed the opportunities and challenges of bilateral investment between the United States and China, including greater market access for U.S. goods and services, protection of intellectual property—including trade secrets—as well as ways to promote an efficient and level playing field in China, and how to secure best practices in regulatory enforcement, among other issues.

Later in the day at a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the importance of global commerce in promoting more openness, trade, and business between the United States and China. She also highlighted how Chinese investment in the United States has been a win-win for both countries and noted that Chinese investment has grown 42% between 2009 and 2013, supporting jobs for 14,000 U.S. workers.  

Secretary Pritzker finished the day speaking about the shared vision of a global economic partnership that exists between the United States and China. She noted that the success of the U.S.-China commercial relationship is critical to global economic growth and stability. The two economies are the largest in the world, accounting for nearly 35 percent of global GDP. Combined U.S. and China trade in goods and services add up to about one-fifth of all international trade, so the importance of the bilateral economic relationship to each other and to the global economy cannot be overstated.  

In many ways, the reimagined JCCT is an opportunity for the JCCT co-chairs to build a legacy of cooperation, respect, and stronger U.S.-China economic ties. Leaving this legacy will require a tremendous amount of work, but if it succeeds, the JCCT will become an even more effective mechanism for economic growth.  The co-chairs can use the JCCT to promote more commerce, to deepen trust, and to address real business challenges.

Challenging Mission, Strong Team

Guest blog post by Mark Doms, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Our country – the public, businesses, NGOs, non-profits, academic institutions and governments at all levels – relies on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic & Statistics Administration (ESA) to provide timely, relevant, and high-quality data about our population and economy so they can make better decisions. This is no easy task given the sheer magnitude of our nation – we have over 7 million employer- businesses, 320 million people, a Gross Domestic Product of over $17 trillion, and trillions of dollars in international trade. It can make your head spin.  Additionally, keeping track of our economy and population is made all the more difficult because of the dynamism of our country: hundreds of thousands of new businesses start every year; tens of millions of people move; and new industries arise while others decline. On top of all of this, we are in the midst of a data revolution, with rapid advances in private-sector data availability, new data analysis tools, and ever more and changing ways to disseminate data. 

As the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, I ensure our people, programs, and policies are properly aligned and resourced to successfully perform our mission in this rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment. ESA’s three operating units; Commerce’s Office of the Chief Economist, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Bureau of Census include a workforce of more than 10,000 dedicated professionals. In addition to our duties and challenges, ESA has been given another mission: to take the lead in achieving goals under the Data Pillar of the Department of Commerce’s Strategic Plan, working across all bureaus in Commerce to fulfill the imperative to “maximize the positive impacts of Commerce data on society.”

To be successful in both my traditional job as ESA Under Secretary and as a leader of the Data Pillar, I need a capable, nimble, leadership team with a diverse set of skills.  None of us can be successful alone; instead we need to be members of strong teams committed to excellence. This post focuses on just one ESA team, that of my immediate office, which has been revamped in the past year. Team members were chosen and the positions created to meet a specific and diverse list of challenges, the most important being continuity, communication, coordination, and planning.

Presidential Task Force Issues Recommendations to Level Playing Field for U.S. Fishermen

Seafood on ice

Earlier today, the U.S. government took additional steps to level the playing field for legitimate U.S. fishermen, and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks. The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, released 15 recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud and increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S. 

The recommendations released today include:

  • International: Work with international governments, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and others to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level.
  • Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
  • Partnerships: Create and expand partnerships with U.S. state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce.
  • Traceability: Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the U.S. market to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers. 

Tech Week 2014: Optimizing Patent Examiner Training through Volunteer Experts

Tech Week 2014: Optimizing Patent Examiner Training through Volunteer Experts

The first week in December, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held Tech Week, an opportunity for representatives from corporations, universities, and other organizations to showcase innovations in their field for its patent examiners. Such training, part of its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program, (PETTP) helps ensure patent examiners truly understand the state of the art in the technologies and disciplines in which they consider granting patents.  The technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts in the PETTP volunteer their assistance. 

PETTP responds to one of several executive actions issued by the White House earlier this year aimed, in part, at strengthening the quality and accessibility of our patent system. One of these initiatives focused on the critical need for examiners to stay up-to-date in their technical fields of expertise through more robust technical training, enabling them to perform the best examination possible. PETTP improves the patent process by ensuring patent examiners are aware of emerging trends, maturing technologies, and recent innovation. 

Topics during USPTO Tech Week included technology advancements and trends in the areas of stem cells, petroleum, regenerative medicine, pharmaceuticals, robotics, financial trading, wireless communication technology, and more. Among the many presenters were representatives from Qualcomm, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, iRobot, Google, Seiko Epson, Sun Chemical, Verizon, and NASA. 

Program Manager Ray Taylor of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) discussed the innovative technologies developed for this large, infrared telescope slated for launch in 2018. JWST will observe some of the most distant objects in the universe, the formation of stars and planets, and give insight into the Big Bang, the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, and the evolution of our own solar system. Taylor explained the unique challenges JWST faces, such as developing a strong yet lightweight primary mirror 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope. This was accomplished by building mirror segments out of ultra-lightweight beryllium, in a way that folds up to fit into a spacecraft and adjusts to shape after launch. Overcoming operational challenges related to temperature, such as mirror deformation and alignment, were also outlined for patent examiners. Taylor received a multitude of questions, leading to a robust discussion on the telescope’s development. 

Operational Excellence in Federal Spectrum Management

Operational Excellence in Federal Spectrum Management

One of the core functions of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is to manage federal uses of wireless spectrum to make the most efficient use of this precious resource. It’s complex, technical work performed by a team of resourceful engineers who labor behind the scenes to ensure that federal agencies have the radio spectrum they need to perform all sorts of mission-critical functions. 

For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration relies on spectrum to safely navigate planes. The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) depends on spectrum to communicate with weather satellites tracking storms. And the Pentagon uses spectrum to operate everything from radar systems to weapons systems. 

NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management makes this possible. And while the office has performed this vital mission for years, it’s a task that is taking on added urgency and facing mounting pressure amid skyrocketing commercial-sector demand for spectrum to fuel the explosive growth of wireless broadband. 

The wild popularity of iPhones, Android devices and other mobile gadgets of all sorts – which consumers are using to upload picture to Facebook, watch videos on YouTube and devour other multimedia content – is driving unprecedented demand for bandwidth for licensed and unlicensed commercial wireless services. 

To balance the growing need for spectrum among commercial users and federal agencies alike, NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management is collaborating with the Federal Communications Commission to identify spectrum that can potentially be repurposed for commercial use and to promote spectrum sharing across the public and private sectors. Against this backdrop, NTIA’s spectrum engineers are working closely with federal agencies to ensure that they are using their assigned frequencies as efficiently as possible. 

Multiple teams in NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management support this critical work. Two that achieved “operational excellence” in fiscal 2013 – getting more done with fewer resources, while still meeting exacting engineering quality standards – are the Systems Review Branch and the Frequency Assignment Branch. 

Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions

Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions

Guest blog post by Chauncy Lennon, Senior Program Director, Workforce Initiatives JP Morgan Chase Foundation and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) 

Last Friday was the kickoff meeting for NACIE 2.0 – the Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I was proud to join my fellow committee members to address global competiveness. Without question, the meeting started in what can only be described as a sprint out of the blocks. We began the morning with Secretary Pritzker asking us what transformational investments and policies the Federal Government facilitate to help communities, businesses, and workers be globally competitive. By the end of the day we were presenting a list of ideas with the potential to answer this charge. Additional comments from Julie Kirk, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helped frame the opportunities ahead. 

A new and welcomed feature of NACIE 2.0 is three subcommittees focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. I’m looking forward to serving on the workforce subcommittee. At JPMorgan Chase, we’ve just completed the first year of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $250 million global initiative supporting the development of data-driven workforce training and education solutions to help address the mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of current job seekers. As the subcommittee got to work on honing its list of priorities, labor market information and data quickly rose to the top. Advancing the US workforce, helping industries compete, and fostering innovation all require better data and systems to process and share it with employers, educators and workforce trainers.

The limitations government, business and educators face in understanding education pipelines, career pathways, and the different types of credentials workers currently create significant economic growth challenges. Without data, employers don’t know if the workforce in their region can meet their skill needs.  The same goes for job seekers. If education attainment is not linked to the needs of businesses, high schools, colleges and training providers struggle to know exactly what credentials and degrees students might need to find jobs in different sectors and industries. 

As a result, both employers and job seekers suffer because of insufficient data. Job seekers have a hard time knowing about current and future employment opportunities while employers lack access to the quality data informing them about the results of training and education programs.

Building stronger data systems will take time. But it is the perfect example of an idea that answers Secretary Pritzker’s charge to NACIE: With the right information, we can transform our economy to benefit everyone.  

President Obama Announces $400M for Manufacturing Hubs and Skills Training

This week President Obama made some major announcements that will help create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

Specifically, President Obama launched two new competitions for manufacturing and innovation institutes, one in smart manufacturing at the Department of Energy, and one in flexible hybrid electronics at the Department of Defense. Each institute will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector, for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

This announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action. These institutes are critical to ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership in innovation.

The Department of Commerce is committed to the President’s vision of creating a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes over the next 10 years, which will require Congress to pass legislation. Secretary Pritzker has advocated for the passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish NNMI. Specifically, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act would create a network of up to 15 regional institutes nationwide. The legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

NNMI would play a critical role in boosting America’s industrial competitiveness by supporting innovative technology development. Support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs will help strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, two key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

When you’re striving for excellence, it helps to have an example. It’s much easier to work hard on something when you’ve seen others succeed despite obstacles. A highlight each year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the annual awards ceremony. This is where NIST celebrates operational excellence through the many achievements of its scientific, engineering, administrative and other support staff members. 

This year the agency was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker provide remarks at the event.

As NIST employees left the ceremony Wednesday, they had almost 200 examples of operational excellence to pick from for role models—people who had done amazing things. Since NIST is a research agency, many were technical stars who had:

USPTO Open Data Roundtable – An Awesome Beginning


Guest blog post by Thomas Beach, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary and Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Scott Beliveau, Open Data Team Lead, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Nobody doubts the value of data today, and the Obama Administration has taken many important steps towards making government data more open and accessible to the public. As Secretary Pritzker likes to remind us, the Department of Commerce is “America’s Data Agency,” and has a unique and central role in that transformation.   Although open data feels like the flavor of the month for every government agency to tout, this is especially meaningful for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. The agency houses a treasure trove of data, and now has crystalized a path forward to better sharing it with the world.

Disclosing and disseminating data supports our broader mission of advancing American innovation.  After all, the patent system rests on the trade-off between the disclosure of an invention and the right to exclude others from using it.  From that perspective, the USPTO has been in the business of open data for a very long time.  If we were going to live up to our mission in this interconnected, digital world of disseminating information about patents and trademarks, we knew we needed an agency-wide commitment to improve our data delivery on all fronts.  And that was the spirit in which we hosted the USPTO Open Data Roundtable with NYU’s GovLab on December 8th.

The roundtable brought together diverse members of our user community, including industry representatives, prior art searchers, and academics, with USPTO’s data team.

Staff-Led Groups Create Change Within the International Trade Administration

This year, the International Trade Administration’s Industry and Analysis (I&A) team launched the “Renaissance Project.” The initiative aims to create a system of turning ideas into actions, and it has helped increase our team’s productivity and boost morale.

Through the project, we challenged a series of staff working groups to develop ideas to not only make I&A a better place to work, but also come up with tangible, actionable steps to put those ideas into motion.

Every three to four months, a new group of interested volunteers discussed a particular theme, and then identified the concrete steps necessary to make improvements to I&A under their theme. Most importantly, after putting together a proposal to senior I&A management, each group actually took the steps to make to the recommended improvements.

Throughout the course of the past year, five groups have met as part of the Renaissance Project to work on their particular “theme” of issues, ranging from post-reorganization cohesion to long-standing issues:

1. Getting to Know the New I&A

2. Improving Communication

3. Training and Mentoring

4. Identity, Branding, and Image

5. Employee Recognition and Retention<--break->

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland, which recently received a federal grant to lead a consortium of 14 Maryland community colleges, in partnership with 37 employers, to build career pathways for cybersecurity and information technology jobs. The $15 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant is one of 70 awards – totaling $450 million – that the Department of Labor announced in September. To learn first-hand how the grant is helping equip students for cybersecurity jobs that are locally available, Secretary Pritzker toured the school’s cyber laboratory with Montgomery College’s President Dr. DeRionne Pollard before participating in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Maryland’s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium. 

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that skills development is an important issue for America’s workforce and businesses. Since taking office, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to more than 1,400 business leaders and one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every one of them has raised this as an issue that is critical to their future. This is why Secretary Pritzker has made job-driven training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time. Across many different industries, from manufacturing to cybersecurity, jobs are going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the skills they are seeking. In fact, there are currently about 210,000 open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country.
Cybersecurity is a threat not just to national security, but to America’s businesses and economy at–large. During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the Commerce Department’s key role in addressing the threat of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is one of Commerce’s bureaus, advances cutting-edge technology and industry standards and has conducted cybersecurity research for as long as there has been cyberspace. NIST has worked with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County on projects designed to secure electronic health information; protect assets in the financial services sector; and defend our energy infrastructure.

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

Frank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China. 

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations. 

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner. 

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation. 

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries. 

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

* protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

* government procurement;

* standards, testing, and certifications; and

* issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism. <--break->

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Guest blog post by Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

It’s an honor to serve with such distinguished members of NACIE and to have a voice in this national conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship.  This is an especially personal topic to me. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in my blood – and a part of my heritage. I’m the son of international students from China who sought – and largely achieved – the American dream in Delaware, where I grew up and first discovered my love of science and technology. 

Like the children of many immigrants, I was born with high expectations from my high-achieving parents. My late father was an accomplished DuPont polymer engineer, process inventor, and NASA Lifetime Achievement Award-winner. My mother helped found the University of Delaware’s clinical chemistry department. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to excel.

My work at the University City Science Center has reinforced my belief that innovation and entrepreneurship define the origins and values of America. After all, as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will remind you, Philly was home to the original American start-up, our nation. My home city’s long and storied history of innovation that began with the Founding Founders continues to this day.

Between bifocals and the lightning rod, Benjamin Franklin alone, was a one-person innovation ecosystem! However, one person alone, or even one industry alone, does not an ecosystem make! Instead, innovation thrives in a rainforest-like atmosphere when disparate, yet related groups convene, connect and have the opportunity to collaborate.

Cities and regions are poised to be the defining platform to grow innovation ecosystems. They are the rainforests where these innovation ecosystems can thrive. They also provide a hospitable environment for scalable innovation. I believe that scaling – the process of transitioning from the start-up to the manufacturing phase in a company’s early life – is the key to fulfilling the promise of innovation and creating good jobs.

BEA Operational Improvements Enable Agency to Publish More Regional Economic Statistics

Operational improvements at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) mean the public will soon get to see more regional economic data. These improvements will safeguard businesses’ private information, while ensuring vital regional data is available to policy makers and other data users. BEA is constantly looking at ways to better provide the information that users need while protecting the confidentiality of employers’ records.

One improvement is in the area of county-level earnings. BEA, for instance, produces statistics on how much people earn in different industries for individual counties.  If there are too few employers in an industry for a given county, in order to protect employers’ privacy, BEA cannot publicly publish the data for that industry. The BEA county-level earnings by industry data are then used to calculate BEA’s gross domestic product by metropolitan area statistics. If BEA can’t publicly use certain pieces of data for an industry in the county-level earnings data set, then BEA also might not be able to publish the same data for that industry in our gross domestic product by metropolitan area statistics.

Since the 1980s, BEA has relied on a set of computer programs to identify which statistics must not be published publicly to protect the confidentiality of business records for individual companies.  This year, however, BEA is switching to a new disclosure-avoidance system that reduces processing time from five days to one, while generating fewer non-public statistics.

Our testing indicates that the new system will consistently result in 33 percent fewer unpublished values in the final public statistics on the economic activity generated by metropolitan areas.

Another improvement will affect data on how much each industry contributes to economic activity in   metro areas. Because of this improvement, BEA will increase the number of data points on industry contributions to metro area economic activity that can be published from 68.3 percent to 93.3 percent, meaning that BEA will be able to publish many more pieces of data.

These advancements are examples of how BEA delivers strong customer service through operational excellence. BEA is working harder and smarter to respond to our customers’ needs.  The Commerce Department identifies operational excellence as an important pillar in its Open for Business Agenda. That is, delivering better services, solutions and outcomes that benefit the American people.

BEA prides itself on producing timely, relevant and accurate statistics and putting its innovative thinking to work to meet both economic measurement challenges and customers’ needs. 

MBDA Making Operational Excellence a Priority in 2014

For 45 years, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) programs have focused on providing greater access to business opportunities that better equip minority business owners to create jobs, build scale and capacity, and contribute to the U.S. economy.  

In response to the President’s call to make 2014 “a year of action,” MBDA ensured that we reached many more minority-owned firms throughout the nation. In addition to reaching new heights, MBDA was active in expanding its reach and services for the rapidly growing segment of the economy we serve. We opened seven new MBDA Business Centers in Baltimore, MD, Bridgeport, CT, Houston, TX, Bronx, NY, St. Louis, MO, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. 

MBDA also launched a concentrated effort focused on engaging minority business enterprises in emerging industry opportunities. Our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy helps develop access and capacity for minority-owned firms to engage in the growing energy industry. 

In October, we provided our San Francisco MBDA Business Center with supplemental funding to establish a Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center. The Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center is designed to engage minority-owned firms in tech transfer and “lab-to-market” initiatives.  The San Francisco MBDA Business Center’s proximity to Silicon Valley, a leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, provides a prime opportunity to help minority-owned businesses leverage “lab to market” opportunities and ensure greater participation in the growing energy sector by assisting in capacity building and market entry. 

We also provided supplemental funding to seven other MBDA Business Centers to specialize in advanced manufacturing and healthcare technology, exports to Africa, exports to Mexico and South America and aerospace supply chain mapping. 

These efforts have anchored our Agency as a critical resource for the over 5.8 million U.S. minority-owned firms. And, as MBDA marches forward in the next 45 years, we will continue the pursuit of operational excellence and focusing on maximizing its value to customers. 

To learn more about how MBDA continues to pursue operational excellence in all aspects of the Agency in order to best serve the nation’s minority-owned businesses visit

Innovation Support is in Demand

Julie Kirk, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

By Julie Kirk, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

What do you get when you take a $15 million Regional Innovation Strategies program and add 254 applicants requesting more than $100 million in support? You get a very busy Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and compelling evidence that this program is crucial.

The Regional Innovation Strategies program was launched in September 2014 to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA solicited applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds: 

  • i6 Challenge: The i6 Challenge, now in its forth iteration, is focused on accelerating the commercialization of technology. The 2014 i6 was broadened from the three previous challenges to include scaling of existing centers or programs and funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers.
  • Science/Research Parks: This new program provides funding for feasibility and planning of new or expanded Science/Research parks or renovation of existing facilities.
  • Cluster Grants for Seed Funds: Also new this year, this program provides funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds that invest in growth-oriented, innovation-based start-up companies. Ultimately, the goal is to foster job creation. 

EDA is committed to helping foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors which support commercialization and entrepreneurship. Working with regions across the country to develop regional innovation strategies, including regional innovation clusters, is also one of the Commerce Department’s strategic goals, and a keystone of the Secretary’s commitment to building globally competitive regions.  

This effort is also in line with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda” priority to strengthen operational excellence: providing better services, solutions, and outcomes to better serve the American people. The overwhelming response by the application’s closing date on November 3 demonstrates that communities recognize the benefits of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and could benefit from the kind of support offered by the Regional Innovation Strategies program. 

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses Entertainment Software Industry on Commerce Department Initiatives to Help American Businesses and Entrepreneurs Stay Competitive​

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews Addresses Entertainment Software Industry

Earlier today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered the keynote address at “20 Years of Excitement, Innovation, Growth & Jobs,” a briefing hosted by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) as the trade association celebrates its 20th anniversary. 

The briefing, which was co-hosted by the Congressional Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology (E-TECH Caucus), focused on trends in the video game industry, including how digital and creative economies are driving our economic future.
During the event on Capitol Hill, Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed Commerce Department efforts to make American businesses and entrepreneurs more competitive by giving them the tools to succeed, including supporting job-training initiatives, strengthening innovation through public-private partnerships, and unleashing more government data.
Deputy Secretary Andrews attributed much of the entertainment industry’s success to its commitment to training and maintaining a skilled workforce. The Department of Commerce has made skills training a department-wide priority for the first time and, in partnership with the White House and the Department of Labor, is committed to advancing job-driven training initiatives and scaling up successful models like that of the video game industry.
The Department of Commerce is also committed to developing public-private partnerships with the entertainment software industry. Deputy Secretary Andrews pointed to the Louisiana Digital Media Center in Baton Rouge, LA, as proof of the value of these partnerships. The center, funded in part by a grant from Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, houses Electronic Arts’ (EA) commercial video game operations, along with Louisiana State University’s Center for Computation and Technology. EA expects to employ anywhere from 400 to 600 workers at the facility in the coming years.
Deputy Secretary Andrews also spoke about how technology industries are using government data in creative and unexpected ways. For example, NOAA already releases 2 terabytes daily of weather and climate data, powering a multibillion dollar weather industry. As America’s Data Agency, Commerce is committed to unleashing more of that data – the remaining 17 terabytes to be exact – so that the video game and other industries can make use of the untapped potential.

NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

 NIST Awards $2.5 Million in Grants to MEP Centers for Pilot Business-to-Business Networks

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $2.5 million in grants to 10 Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers to pilot online regional business-to-business network projects. The networks will help match buyers and sellers of technologies or products and services in support of small and midsize manufacturers.

“The Commerce Department is committed to keeping our small and medium-size manufacturers globally competitive,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Manufacturing Extension Partnership grants announced today are an example of our efforts to invest in cutting-edge technologies through public-private collaboration.”

Each awardee will receive a total of $250,000 for a two-year project. The pilots are designed to be scalable and interoperable to help determine if they might be expanded into a national network or a series of regional ones. The networks are expected to include technologies available at federal laboratories and universities and, therefore, enhance the framework for collaboration between the private and public sectors through the nationwide network of MEP centers.

“One of NIST-MEP’s goals is to improve the productivity of our domestic supply chains,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “These projects will demonstrate a variety of innovative approaches to doing that by connecting small firms with larger corporations.”

The awardees and their projects are:

Oregon MEP (Portland, Ore.)
The Northwest Connectory Business-to-Business Network (NWB2B) will bring together Oregon MEP, Impact Washington (State of Washington MEP), the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalitionand partnering trade associations, manufacturers, suppliers and other public-sector organizations in a regional consortium that will develop and maintain the pilot network. The business-to-business exchange tool they create will help manufacturers scout for local customers and suppliers, solicit bids, promote and seek emerging technologies and other related activities. The NWB2B project will build upon the existing NW Connectory, an online buyer-supplier network for Pacific Northwest manufacturing and technology companies that already contains vetted, full-text searchable profiles of more than 4,700 companies located in the Northwest.

Catalyst Connection (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
The Pennsylvania Network for Open Innovation will use an open innovation business model that instills a culture of innovation in small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises, increases their speed to market with more promising innovations, and thus, accelerates their business growth. It will leverage existing strong relationships and resources during the initiative, and the model will provide a basis for nationwide replication.

Strengthening Tribal Economies – Jobs, Energy, Housing, and Infrastructure

Strengthening Tribal Economies – Jobs, Energy, Housing, and Infrastructure

Guess blog post by Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Shortly after being sworn-in as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in May, I traveled to Anchorage, Alaska on my first official trip. There, I participated in the National Congress of the American Indians’ (NCAI) mid-year conference entitled, “Claiming our Rights and Strengthening our Governance” where I had the opportunity to meet with tribal leaders from across the country and to participate in a focused discussion on the importance of developing modern trust management systems and creating the conditions for economic growth on tribal trust lands. 

Building on this engagement, I was honored to be asked to moderate the “Strengthening Tribal Economies – Jobs, Energy, Housing, and Infrastructure” breakout session, a vital component of the White House Tribal Nations Conference that is taking place in Washington this week. 

Joined by colleagues representing a plethora of Federal agencies with involvement in the White House Council on Native American Affairs - an interagency working group brought together to tackle the issues that affect Indian Country - we discussed the critical roles that each agency plays in helping build economic and job opportunity in Indian Country. We also heard from tribal leaders on the challenges and opportunities they face and broadened the dialogue about how the Federal government can continue to support their local economic development strategies. 

The fact that my first official engagement as EDA Assistant Secretary was with Tribal nations and that I was asked to moderate this critical White House session is not coincidental.  

Economic development creates the conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, firms, and communities to maximize their talents and skills to support innovation, lower transaction costs, and responsibly produce and trade valuable goods and services.  

For nearly 50 years, the U.S. Economic Development Administration has partnered with Tribal communities from coast to coast to promote economic development in Indian Country. 

During the past five years, EDA has awarded nearly $54 million in assistance to Indian tribes to create businesses, build roads and other infrastructure, and develop their own economic development strategies. 

While EDA grants and other Federal investments are removing economic barriers and attracting capital to Indian country, we know there is more work to be done and look forward to a strong continued partnership with our nation’s tribal communities to strengthen tribal economies. 

By bringing so many government representatives and Tribal leaders together at the White House Tribal Nation’s Conference, we aim to be more accessible to Indian Country.

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

Secretary Pritzker Visits Chicago to Discuss Tools Needed for Continued Economic Growth and Commercial Diplomacy

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Chicago, IL yesterday to meet with students from the Institute of Politics (IOP) to talk about the Administration’s work to spur the economy and tools needed for further growth. Secretary Pritzker joined David Axelrod, Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, for an armchair discussion and Q&A session with IOP students, where she discussed her career background, what the Administration is doing to promote economic growth, her role as Commerce Secretary, and advice to young people starting their careers.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker stated that the most important part of any organization is the people, and making sure they have the tools and support needed to succeed. She highlighted the Department’s role in helping set the conditions for growth and giving businesses key tools to help them expand through unleashing data, environmental intelligence, support for digital infrastructure, assistance for trade and investment through the Department’s U.S. Export Assistance Center and the Foreign Commercial Service Officers. More broadly, Secretary Pritzker discussed the need for investments in infrastructure, passing comprehensive immigration reform, support for trade agreements, spurring more innovation and preparing American workers with the skills training to compete in the global economy.

Secretary Pritzker later joined top leadership from UI labs, local elected officials, and corporate and university leaders for a roundtable discussion about the future of manufacturing innovation and Chicago’s new Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDI). The DMDI is one of the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes announced by President Obama in February. Secretary Pritzker highlighted the importance of these institutes and how the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act will keep America on the cutting edge of innovation and competitiveness by meeting the real and growing demand for the development of more advanced manufacturing technologies. This legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, community colleges and universities, the private sector, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

New Commerce Wireless Contract to Save Taxpayers Nearly $25M

The Commerce Department’s wireless demands, which span domestic and international markets, are critical to achieving the Department’s missions and goals. In order to continue providing reliable service while ensuring the most competitive pricing to date, Commerce recently signed blanket purchase agreements (BPA) with three major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) to provide wireless services. The BPA leverages the volume of wireless services that Commerce purchases each year to drive competition, while providing the Department with a faster and more effective way to order wireless services.

The hard work of the Commerce team, comprised of technical and acquisition experts from bureaus throughout the Department, has paid off with better than ever terms for users. The team leveraged the Department’s formidable buying power to achieve cost savings without compromising quality.

Wireless BPA Benefits:

The DOC Wireless BPAs are estimated to save the Department nearly $25 million in taxpayer dollars over the duration of the 7-year BPA while providing the latest technologies to keep up to date with today’s ever changing mobile landscape. Through the new contract, Commerce will be able to:

  • Access service plans with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile at up to 50% off GSA prices
  • Participate in DOC-wide pooling for voice and data that will significantly reduce the likelihood of overage charges
  • Streamline account and line management and access real time data through a DOC-only online portal with each carrier
  • Receive bi-annual rate optimization analysis from carriers to identify opportunities that further reduce costs