United States Department of Commerce

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United States Department of Commerce
US-DeptOfCommerce-Seal.svg
Seal of the U.S. Department of Commerce
Flag of the United States Department of Commerce.svg
Flag of the U.S. Department of Commerce
Agency overview
Formed February 14, 1903; 111 years ago (1903-02-14)
Headquarters Herbert C. Hoover Building
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., U.S.
38°53′39.48″N 77°0′58.08″W / 38.8943000°N 77.0161333°W / 38.8943000; -77.0161333Coordinates: 38°53′39.48″N 77°0′58.08″W / 38.8943000°N 77.0161333°W / 38.8943000; -77.0161333
Employees 43,880 (2011)[1]
Annual budget US$10.2 billion (2009)
US$14.2 billion (est. 2010)
US$9.3 billion (est. 2011)
Agency executive Penny Pritzker, Secretary
Website www.Commerce.gov

The United States Department of Commerce (DOC) is the Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth. The mission of the department is to "promote job creation and improved living standards for all Americans by creating an infrastructure that promotes economic growth, technological competitiveness, and sustainable development". Among its tasks are gathering economic and demographic data for business and government decision-making, issuing patents and trademarks, and helping to set industrial standards. The Department of Commerce headquarters is the Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.

History[edit]

The department was originally created as the United States Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903. This organization's main purpose is to create jobs, promote economic growth, encourage sustainable development and improve standards of living for all Americans.[2] It was subsequently renamed the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, as the bureaus and agencies specializing in labor were transferred to the new Department of Labor. The United States Patent and Trademark Office was transferred from the Interior Department into Commerce, and the Federal Employment Stabilization Office existed within the department from 1931 to 1939. In 1940, the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) was transferred from the Agriculture Department, and the Civil Aeronautics Authority was merged into the department. In 1949, the Public Roads Administration was added to the department due to the dissolution of the Federal Works Agency. In 1958, the independent Federal Aviation Agency was created and the Civil Aeronautics Authority was abolished. The Economic Development Administration was created in 1965. In 1966, the Bureau of Public Roads was transferred to the newly created Department of Transportation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was created on October 3, 1970.[3] The DOC is currently headed by Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Reorganization proposals[edit]

Proposals to reorganize the Department go back many decades.[2] The Department of Commerce was one of three departments that Texas governor Rick Perry advocated eliminating during his 2012 presidential campaign, along with the Department of Education and Department of Energy. Perry's campaign cited the frequency with which agencies had historically been moved into and out of the department and its lack of a coherent focus, and advocated moving its vital programs into other departments such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Labor, and Department of the Treasury. The Economic Development Administration would be completely eliminated.[4] The Department of Commerce was one of five departments that Texas Congressman Ron Paul supported eliminating during his 2012 presidential campaign, along with Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On January 13, 2012, President Obama announced his intentions to ask the United States Congress for the power to close the department and replace it with a new cabinet-level agency focused on trade and exports. The new agency would include the Office of the United States Trade Representative, currently part of the Executive Office of the President, as well as the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the United States Trade and Development Agency, and the Small Business Administration, which are all currently independent agencies. The Obama administration projects that the reorganization would save $3 billion and will help the administration's goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.[5] The new agency would be organized around four "pillars": a technology and innovation office including the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; a statistical division including the United States Census Bureau and other data-collection agencies currently in the Commerce Department, and also the Bureau of Labor Statistics which would be transferred from the Department of Labor; a trade and investment policy office; and a small business development office. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be transferred from the Department of Commerce into the Department of the Interior.[6] Later that year, shortly before the 2012 presidential election, Obama invoked the idea of a "secretary of business" in reference to the plan.[7] The reorganization was part of a larger proposal which would grant the President the authority to propose mergers of federal agencies, which would then be subject to an up-or-down Congressional vote. This ability had existed from the Great Depression until the Reagan presidency, when Congress rescinded the authority.[8]

The Obama administration plan faced criticism for some of its elements. Some Congress members expressed concern that the Office of the United States Trade Representative would lose focus if it were included in a larger bureaucracy, especially given its status as an "honest broker" between other agencies, which tend to advocate for specific points of view.[5][9] The overall plan has also been criticized as an attempt to create an agency similar to Japan's powerful Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which was abolished in 2001 after some of its initiatives failed and it became seen as a hindrance to growth.[9] NOAA's climate and terrestrial operations and fisheries and endangered species programs would be expected to integrate well with agencies already in the Interior Department, such as the United States Geological Survey and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. However, environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council feared that the reorganization could distract the agency from its mission of protecting the nation's oceans and ecosystems.[10]

Organization[edit]

Structure[edit]

Budget and finances[edit]

The Department of Commerce was authorized a budget for Fiscal Year 2015 of $60.9 billion. The budget authorization is broken down as follows:[11]

Program Funding (in millions)
Management and Finance
Departmental Management $73.2
Office of the Inspector General $35.5
Operating Divisions
Economic Development Administration $248.1
Census Bureau 1,240.0
Bureau of Economic Analysis $111.0
International Trade and Investment Administration $497.3
Bureau of Industry and Security $110.5
Minority Business Development Agency $28.3
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $5,684.7
Patent and Trademark Office $3,439.5
National Institute of Standards and Technology $904.9
National Telecommunications and Information Administration $51
Mandatory Spending
Public Safety Broadband Network $2,275
TOTAL $14,565

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Department of Commerce FY 2011 Budget in Brief". United States Department of Commerce Office of Budget. 
  2. ^ a b Steve Charnovitz, "Reinventing the Commerce Dept.," Journal of Commerce, July 12, 1995.
  3. ^ "Milestones". United States Department of Commerce. July 20, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Uproot and Overhaul Washington: Eliminate and Restructure Wasteful Federal Agencies". RickPerry.org, Inc. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b MacInnis, Laura (January 13, 2012). "Obama wants export agency, closing of Commerce Department". Reuters. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  6. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (January 13, 2012). "What Would Wiping Out the Commerce Department Mean for Science?". ScienceInsider. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ Schroeder, Peter (29 October 2012). "Obama floats plan for a 'secretary of Business' if he wins second term". The Hill. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Landler, Mark; Lowrey, Annie (14 January 2012). "Obama Bid to Cut the Government Tests Congress". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Bartlett, Bruce (January 17, 2012). "The Pros and Cons of Obama’s Reorganization Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ Malakoff, David (January 13, 2012). "Rough Sailing for Plan to Move NOAA?". ScienceInsider. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  11. ^ 2015 Department of Commerce Budget-in-Brief, United States Department of Commerce, Accessed 2015-07-16

External links[edit]