FinancialOn The Move

The Department of Commerce reached key milestones in 2019


WASHINGTON – Throughout 2019, under the leadership of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Department of Commerce and thousands of its employees worked together to maintain the safety of American citizens, fuel the continuing economic revival, and produce new data products while preparing for the 2020 Decennial Census.

“During the past year, the work of the Department has proven to be essential to millions of American businesses and communities across the country,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We have accomplished countless goals in support of President Trump’s promises to stimulate economic growth, protect national security, as well as ensure fair and reciprocal trade.”

Fueling Economic Innovation and Protecting Growth

  • Over the course of the past year, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) conducted extensive outreach to inform communities and investors of the tremendous impact that the President’s Opportunity Zones initiative is having on transforming communities across the nation. The initiative, a component of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that provides tax incentives for socially-impactful investments, fits hand-in-glove with EDA’s mission of supporting locally-driven economic development strategies in distressed communities. In fact, since 2018, EDA has invested nearly $347 million in 239 projects around the U.S. to support designated Opportunity Zones.
  • The International Trade Administration (ITA) worked diligently on new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, overall initiating 187 new trade cases during this Administration. These cases represent a more than 188 percent increase from the comparable period in the previous administration, helping to ensure that American companies and workers can compete on a level playing field with our foreign trading partners. Additionally, ITA led the Administration’s new strategy for increasing trade and investment in Africa: Prosper Africa.
  • This year marked the 50th Anniversary of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The milestone year included record performance of MBDA’s national network of programs, which included helping minority-owned businesses secure $3.1 billion in contracts and $1.6 billion in financing, of which $430 million was in export related contracts. Additionally, MBDA scaled-up its Advanced Manufacturing, Export, and Federal Procurement Centers to provide increased support for new industry and market opportunities.
  • For the past year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) played a key role in the historic, international redefinition of the kilogram and three other International System (SI) units of measurement that went into effect in May 2019. Also, NIST released a plan for Federal engagement in the development of AI standards and related tools, released a draft Privacy Framework to help organizations minimize risks, and opened a new lab to support radiation measurements critical to health care, food processing, and national security.
  • The Office of Space Commerce (OSC) continued its revitalization in 2019 by adding staff and working to leverage the entire Department on behalf of the U.S. space industry. The Office also made progress on its National Space Council-directed goals to streamline the commercial use of space by working with the Bureau of Industry and Security to reform the relevant export control regulations and updating its rule on the licensing of private remote sensing systems with NOAA.
  • In Fiscal Year 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) received more than 665,000 patent application filings, a number that has almost doubled since FY2002. Ultimately, USPTO issued 370,430 new patents in FY2019, which join the nearly 3 million patents currently in force in the United States.

Quantifying Economic Growth and America’s Population

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) officially released the annual gross domestic product, or GDP, for more than 3,000 counties, with data including contributions by 34 industries for the first time, including manufacturing, retail trade, as well as health and social assistance. Also, in another first for the Bureau, BEA produced prototype statistics in 2019 showing the role that outdoor recreation – pursuits like bicycling, RVing, and fishing – plays in each state’s economy.
  • The Census Bureau had a successful year planning and testing as they prepare for the 2020 Census. The Bureau completed their first major field operation for the 2020 Census, where more than 32,000 people were hired, trained, and deployed in every county throughout the nation to conduct In-Field Address Canvassing. They also launched their 2020 peak recruiting campaign, the second major field operation, where Census will hire up to 500,000 applicants to work during the decennial census.

Safeguarding National Security and Defending the Homeland

  • Earlier this year, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) placed Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd and dozens of its non-U.S. affiliates to the Bureau’s Entity List after the Department concluded that the company was engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, including alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities. Overall this year, well over one hundred persons or organizations have been added to the Entity List in connection with Huawei.
  • Building upon the successes of the previous year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continued to make incredible advances in weather prediction and in protecting our natural resources. NOAA upgraded its flagship weather model, the Global Forecast System, developed by NOAA researchers to improve forecasts across the nation. NOAA is also working to improve its weather forecasts and space weather monitoring with the launch of six satellites known as COSMIC-2. Moreover, NOAA and its partners designated the first national marine sanctuary in 20 years – the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary in Maryland which will protect the remains of abandoned steamships and vessels built as part of America’s engagement in World War I.
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) made strides on a number of issues in 2019 to advance spectrum opportunities, expand broadband, and promote public safety communications. After years of groundbreaking engineering work and testing on spectrum sharing, NTIA celebrated the first commercial deployments of broadband wireless services in the 3.5 GHz band. Additionally, in partnership with the Department of Transportation, the bureau announced more than $109 million in grants to 34 states and two tribal nations to help 911 call centers upgrade their capabilities.

As the Department of Commerce moves forward into 2020, it will continue to build on these and countless other successes, while continuing its mission to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity.