U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
The Department of Commerce, which was established in 1903, is one of the
main government agencies intended to assist businesses—large and
small—and represent their interests domestically and abroad. The
agency states that its broad range of responsibilities include expanding
U.S. exports, developing and promoting innovative technologies, gathering
and disseminating statistical data and other important economic
information, measuring economic growth, granting patents, promoting
minority entrepreneurship, and providing stewardship. The department
promotes these goals by encouraging job creation and economic growth
through exports, free and fair trade, technology and innovation,
entrepreneurship, deregulation, and sustainable development.
One of the key offices within the Department of Commerce is the Office of
Business Liaison. That office serves as the intermediary between the
business community and the agency. Its objectives include:
To be pro-active in its dealings with the business community and to be
responsive and effective in its outreach efforts.
To keep the current administration aware of problems and issues facing
the business community.
To keep the business community abreast of key administration decisions
To regularly meet with members of the business community.
To help businesses navigate their way through all the federal agencies
and regulations through its Business Assistance Program. In addition to
producing a wide variety of published materials, the Assistance Program
also provides specialists who are available to answer specific questions
on government policies, programs, and services.
Another office that is of interest to small business owners is the Office
of Small and Disadvantaged Utilization. This office is responsible for
ensuring that the department purchases goods and services from small
businesses. It helps small businesses identify which bureaus small
businesses should pursue as potential buyers, clarifies who the key
individuals at that bureau are, and provides small businesses with basic
information on the procurement process and helps them develop marketing
Following is a list of other key offices, departments, and programs at the
Department of Commerce that are also of interest to small business owners:
Bureau of the Census—every 10 years, collects a wide variety of
information on all people living in the United States. It makes this
information publicly available, and business owners often use the
information for demographic or marketing purposes.
Economic Development Administration—responsible for creating new
jobs, retaining existing jobs, and stimulating industrial and commercial
growth in economically challenged areas of the United States.
International Trade Administration—helps U.S. businesses compete
in the global market by assisting exporters, helping businesses gain
equal access to foreign markets, and making it easier to compete against
unfairly traded imports. Includes separate units for trade development
and import administration.
Minority Business Development Agency—Devoted to fostering the
creation, growth, and expansion of minority businesses in the United
Office of Consumer Affairs—exists to bridge the gap between
businesses and consumers, to help businesses improve the quality of the
services they offer consumers, to educate consumers, and to speak for
the consumer in regards to each administration's economic policy
development. The Office also works with American businesses to help them
become more competitive in the global marketplace.
Patent and Trademark Office—protects innovation in the
marketplace by providing inventors and authors with exclusive rights to
National Institute of Standards and Technology—promotes economic
growth by working with businesses to develop and apply technology,
measurements, and standards. Of growing interest to U.S. businesses
because of the growing influence of the International Standards
Organization (ISO) and international emphasis on quality standards.
National Trade Data Bank—provides the public with access,
including electronic access, to export and international economic
Trade Compliance Center—monitors foreign compliance with trade
agreements and provides businesses with information about their rights
and obligations under existing trade agreements with other nations.
Extensive information on the Department and its various bureaus and
programs is available on the World Wide Web at
U.S. Department of Commerce Handbook.
USA International Business Publications, n.a.