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Commerce Department 2012 Budget Cuts Spending, Invests in Priorities to Help America Win the Future

Monday. February 14, 2011

Commerce Department  2012 budget proposes to spend $242 million less

The Commerce Department’s proposed 2012 budget makes tough choices and reduces spending by $242 million, while making important investments that will help America out-build and out-innovate our economic competitors. 

With a proposed five-year, non-security discretionary spending freeze that will save $400 billion, President Obama’s budget reduces non-security, discretionary spending to its lowest percentage of the economy since President Dwight Eisenhower was in office. 

“This budget makes some tough but responsible choices that will put the government on a sounder financial footing," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.  "At the same time, it invests in priorities that will help create jobs, make America more competitive and position our children to win the future."

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank detailed a number of program cuts during a conference call with reporters today. Among the highlighted cuts and reductions:

  • $15.8 million from eliminating the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program;
  • $37.3 million from eliminating EDA’s 21st Century Innovation Infrastructure program;
  • $20 million by restructuring the International Trade Administration to focus on high-priority markets and industries. This means eliminating a number of foreign posts, among other cost savings; 
  • $43 million by eliminating the Emergency Steel Guaranteed Loan Program;
  • More than $2 million by reducing the reliance of the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program on federal funding and shifting it to a private sector footing, and;
  • $20 million by eliminating the Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction Program.

In addition to the program cuts mentioned above, the budget includes savings that result from reforming the way Commerce works – doing more, while spending less. That meant changing how the department handles acquisitions and logistics, such as shipping, to find places where it can leverage buying power; tightening the filling of vacancies to the highest priority positions and better using information technologies. All told, the proposed 2012 budget finds more than $140 million in administrative savings.

Blank also reinforced President Obama’s commitment to making targeted investments that will enable the U.S. to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world. 

Among the investments Blank highlighted:

  • $78.5 million for National Export Initiative activities that will help more U.S. businesses sell their goods and services in markets overseas;
  • An additional $46.3 million for EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program to help communities deal with trade-related economic impacts or other sudden economic challenges, and;
  • $40 million for EDA’s Regional Innovation Program to stimulate regional economic development and job creation.

Additionally, there are a host of innovation-focused investments that will enhance support for National Institute of Standards and Technology programs in areas including:

  • Nanotechnology;
  • 21st Century Manufacturing, and;
  • Interoperability standards of emerging technologies, among other priorities.

Finally, the Commerce Department’s FY 2012 budget includes a $7 billion line item funded from the auction of spectrum, which will fund the creation of a nationwide, interoperable wireless public safety network – a goal of President Obama’s and a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.  NTIA will administer this initiative.  The budget proposal also includes a budget-neutral reorganization to establish a climate service in NOAA. 

“This budget balances the necessity of responsible cuts that rein in spending – putting America on a sustainable fiscal path – with crucial investments that will lead to private sector job creation and help America compete in and win the future,” Blank said.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank’s full remarks can be found here.  For more information on the 2012 Commerce Department budget, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at 202-482-4883.