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VERYONE seems to have a favor
ite simile to describe the Department of Commerce. In briefing President Carter and members of the Cabinet on new directions for the Department, I compared it to Noah's ark; the difference, however, is the fact that the Commerce Department has only one of each thing.
It is true that Commerce has a great number of seemingly unrelated programs. We have the Maritime Administration, the Domestic and International Business Administration, the National Bureau of Standards, the Census Bureau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Economic Development Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the Office of Minority Business Enterprise, the United States Travel Service and the Patent and Trademark Office. Such a range of activities raises legitimate questions. What does oceans policy have to do with telecommunications research, or fire prevention with trade and travel promotion?
The seeming illogic of Commerce's organizational maze begins to make sense, however, if we view the Department's role in the context of its relationship to its overall mission: to facilitate commerce.
One of our major goals is to use more effectively the enormous statistical and informational resources within the Commerce Department to assess the state of the economy, its impact on people and firms and the trends that signal new problems and opportunities.
We must also improve our measurements of social well-being and the quality of life so that we can determine our gains and losses not only in terms of gross national product but also in terms of environmental qual
ity, work conditions, and quantity and The Commerce Department can use of leisure time.
serve as a bridge between investing inTo improve the conditions of the stitutions and government institutions. marketplace, we must redouble ef- It can utilize those human, capital, and forts to create an environment con- community resources that are now idle ducive to investment, to in- because of economic decline in cercreased productivity, and to employ- tain regions, states and cities. It can ment. In many instances, this will re- promote more balanced economic quire reform of government programs growth throughout the Nation. And and regulations that needlessly im- it can help to find ways to deal with pede business development; in others business decline, seasonal and strucit requires direct assistance on our part tural unemployment, and regional to enable business to operate to its full
dislocations. est potential.
Commerce should serve as a cataThe increasingly serious fiscal, eco- lyst, encouraging business to assess its nomic and social condition of our views and evaluate the adequacy of its cities have made public intervention performance in meeting its social reessential if we are to make any signifi- sponsibilities with respect to consumcant inroads into city problems. But ers, employment, and the general just as crucial to successful urban eco
formulation of public policies. nomic development programs are the Throughout history, there has been contributions of the business sector. an artificial barrier between people and No amount of fiscal transfusions from departments of government interested Federal, State and local governments in economic goals and those interested will suffice without effectively leverag- in human goals. I am convinced that ing public monies with private sector we must build a private enterprise investment.
system that develops our greatest human potential, even as it develops programs tailored to deal with specific needs. In today's world that system requires a balance between technical and economic concerns and social and human concerns.
The business community is asserting leadership in developing this new consciousness, and the Commerce Department will facilitate and provide further leadership in these directions. In so doing, it is my hope that the Department itself will help to achieve a balance between technological advancement and human aspirations.
Juanita M. Kreps
services to the general public and to business at home and abroad in discharging its mission of encouraging stable and progressive growth for the benefit of all.
The Department was established by the Congress in 1903 to “foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce, (and) ... manufacturing and shipping ... industries ... of the United States."
In carrying out this mandate, its services bring into focus those economic opportunities that challenge the initiative of business and industry. Its programs promote the increased use of science and technology in the development of our industrial capacity and the production of civilian goods.
The Department provides business with basic economic research data that permit sound decisions on industrial growth and development. Its statistical data and business analyses provide the standard analytic framework for lise in economic policy planning.
The initiatives it has taken in the cconomic policy officials, and serves international field are most dramati- on various inieragency committees and cally illustrated by the historic 1972 task forces dealing with economic commercial accords reached by the questions. The Chief Economist serves United States and the Soviet Union as an advisor to all the bureaus within to open a new trading era between the Department regarding specific the world's two largest powers, ending problems in their own areas that rea 25-year break in normal commercial quire data, analysis and forecasts of relationships.
future developments in the U. S. The Department has realigned and economy. . broadened its domestic business and The Chief Economist also exercises export expansion support operations policy direction and general supervito provide greater assistance to Amer- sion over the Bureau of the Census ican companies competing in world and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. markets, and to stimulate commercial The Census Bureau, in addition to contact between this country and taking the national census of populaand Eastern European nations. The tion and housing every 10 years, proDomestic and International Business vides many economic statistics on a Administration is charged with pro- weekly, monthly or annual basis and moting exports, identifying reasons for also take censuses of business and agriany lag in the U.S. competitive posi- culture every five years. Beginning in tion vis-à-vis other countries, and an- 1985, the Census Bureau will also alyzing and encouraging East-West conduct regular “mid-decade” centrade.
suses of population five years after The Chief Economist works closely
each decennial census. with the President's Council of Eco- The Bureau of Economic Analysis nomic Advisers, the U. S. Treasury, develops and publishes such wellthe Federal Reserve Board, and other known economic series as the Gross
National Product, Personal Income, and Corporate Profits. The two agencies provide a major portion of Federal economic and social statistics.
The Assistant Secretary for Policy is responsible for the review and initiation of all major policies within the Department of Commerce, including energy, regulation, economic and business development,
and maritime policy and general economic policy.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), created in October 1970 from several Federal agencies, seeks to improve our understanding and uses of the earth's physical environment and its oceanic life. NOAA seeks to ensure wise use of the ocean and its resources io enable development as well as conservation of these resources. The agency's responsibilities were broadened by passage in October 1972 of three major acts of Congress-providing for management of the Nation's coastal zone, protecting marine mammals and regulating ocean dumping.
The National Bureau of Standards provides science and industry with accurate and uniform physical measurements for such quantities as length, mass, time, volume, temperature, light, and radioactivity—measurements so necessary to mass production technology. NBS also makes vital contributions in such diverse fields as law enforcement, where work is carried on in more than 50 standards areas; drugs, where techniques such as gas chromatography are used to measure trace levels of drugs and impurities; the environment, where new techniques in detecting and measuring pollutants are being developed, and in health and safety.
The Patent and Trademark Office, Dissemination of technology has which plays such a key role in inven- gained added emphasis and quality tion and innovation, has been process- through the Department's Office of ing new record highs in patents while Telecommunications and through its reducing the average pendency time of National Technical Information Servpatent applications from 20 to 24 ice, which has inaugurated an admonths. It has also given special prior- vanced information retrieval service ity to the processing of applications to provide immediate access to more for patents which may aid in conserv- than 300,000 Government technical ing energy or curbing environmental reports. abuses.
The U.S. Travel Service, through The Maritime Administration is re- exhibits, grants and other devices, sponsible for developing and main- promotes VISIT USA. Overseas vistaining a U.S.-flag merchant marine itors have grown to a rate close to capable of meeting the country's wa- 2.5 million a year, bringing in hunterborne foreign and domestic ship- dreds of millions of dollars to the ping requirements. The Merchant Ma- travel and transportation industries of rine Act of 1970 made possible the the U.S. and assisting in alleviating first major overhaul of the Nation's the deficit in our balance of payments. merchant marine policy in more than In 1971, the Commerce Departthree decades, including a 10-year ment added the Office of the Ombudsshipbuilding program to add 300 high- man for Business. Now a part of the technology ships to the fleet to replace Domestic and International Business aging tonnage while decreasing the Administration, the Ombudsman has level of Federal subsidies. The Mari- been successful in responding to intime Administration's financial assis- quiries from outside of Government, tance programs for industry include helping those who need direction to such direct aids as construction-differ- travel with a minimum of inconvenential subsidy and operating differen- ience and delay through the Federal tial subsidy, as well as indirect forms establishment. such as ship mortgage insurance and Many of the Department's services tax-deferred capital construction are provided through its 43 district offunds. They also include the writing fices. In all its operations, the Departof war-risk insurance and the oversee- ment of Commerce seeks to create a ing of the Federal Government's cargo climate of confidence necessary for preference program.
orderly growth and equal opportunity The Office of Minority Business for all. Enterprise, created within the Department to develop and coordinate a national program to assist in the establishment of new minority businesses and the expansion of existing ones, is a growing concern. OMBE has established six fully staffed regional offices in major cities and smaller field offices in 16 other cities.