U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Addresses Digital Economy Board of Advisors Meeting, Receives Board's Recommendations


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered opening remarks at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors (DEBA) meeting. Established by Secretary Pritzker earlier this year, the DEBA serves as a centralized forum for gathering consensus input from a wide range of stakeholders and experts to help businesses and consumers realize the potential of the digital economy to advance growth and opportunity. In its third and final meeting under the Obama Administration, the DEBA transmitted recommendations to Secretary Pritzker on driving growth in the digital economy, and issued a report on America's future in the global digital economy.

In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker thanked Board members for their contributions to the Commerce Department’s successes in the digital economy space. She emphasized the DEBA’s critical importance to future Department of Commerce leadership as its members continue to advise policymakers on how to best tackle the challenges presented by the growth of the digital economy. The DEBA’s report, released today, will position the Department’s future leadership to take advantage of the digital trends that are now key to unlocking shared prosperity for all Americans.    

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. Welcome to the final meeting of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors for 2016. Before I begin, I want to thank each of you for your service, particularly our co-chairs, Zoe Baird and Mitchell Baker. I am grateful that you have given your time and your expertise to be part of this Board. The issues this Board has raised, confronted, and addressed are crucial to our country’s economic success.

Each of you knows that the digital economy is essential to generating opportunity and prosperity in the future. But in the months since I last spoke to you, we have seen anxiety over how technology is transforming our economy grow into one of the prevailing forces in American politics.

Our challenge – as business leaders, as academics, as policymakers – is how we help our people adjust to a world where technology is changing the very nature of work while also supporting the digital economy as a means to increase growth and strengthen American competitiveness. As you all know, our team developed our first-ever digital economy agenda to tackle these challenges and opportunities, with four key priorities:

  • Promoting a free and open Internet;
  • Protecting digital security and privacy;
  • Expanding broadband access; and
  • Supporting emerging technologies.

We have made progress in each of these areas – from successfully completing the IANA transition to the recent release of the report by the President’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, from laying more than 115,000 miles of high-speed Internet infrastructure to standing up a stakeholder-led process focused on the Internet of Things.

At Commerce, we have also taken significant steps to ensure that future Secretaries of Commerce have the tools to engage with the private sector and other leading thinkers on key issues related to the digital economy – and this Board is a critical piece of that.

But these efforts are just the beginning of a much needed effort to ensure the global digital economy is enabling businesses and our workers to thrive and succeed. We expect the Commerce Department to continue to play a leadership role on digital economy issues both within the U.S. government and around the world. The economic voice must have a seat at the policymaking table alongside those representing national security issues.

Now more than ever – particularly at a time of transition – the Department and its new leadership is going to need your guidance and your advice on how to best tackle the challenges presented by the growth of the digital economy. Frankly, this Board can serve as an ongoing reminder of the enduring role that the Commerce Department should play in shaping our digital future, enabling innovation and competition, and addressing the real needs of people.

Consider the issues facing us: Cybersecurity threats are on the rise. Notions of privacy are being upended. Automation and globalization are changing the nature of work for our people and disrupting entire industries. These challenges and opportunities will confront the next Administration on day one – and all of us for years to come. You have raised issues important to our understanding of the 21st century economy:

  • What metrics should we use to measure the digital economy? 
  • How should government, industry, and the public sector work together to help all Americans to succeed in this new economy?
  • How can digital platforms help small and medium-sized businesses grow and innovate? 

I look forward to discussing these questions today with you.   

As we look into the future, the issues raised by this Board will only become more important and prevalent in our society. That is why we are committed to translating your recommendations into tangible policy.

The report presented today will be shared with our Digital Economy Council –the team of senior bureau leaders from across the Department that meet regularly to coordinate our digital policy activities. They – along with our Director of Digital Economy – will be tasked with acting on your recommendations.

Your work will also be shared directly with the Department’s relevant subject matter experts, as well as our White House and interagency colleagues. In the area of measurements, your input will inform ongoing efforts at the Bureau of Economic Analysis and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, among others, to grapple with changes in how we quantify and assess the digital economy. 

Our “Skills for Business” team, which is focused on preparing workers for the jobs of the 21st century, will be tasted with acting on the Board’s report on the future of jobs and work in the digital economy. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and International Trade Administration will benefit from the platforms report to inform their work on data localization, cross border data flows, and cyber-physical systems, and to train our digital attaches. We will also share your findings with the National Economic Council, the Department of Labor, the Department of State and the Small Business Administration, among other agencies.

In each of these areas, your report will serve as a guide for future strategy, a window into some of the best thinking in the private sector, and an actionable set of activities that our teams can start work on now. As we transition to the next Administration, I am confident that you will continue to be an indispensable resource to the next Secretary of Commerce. I look forward to answering your questions and hearing your recommendations. Thank you for your service, for your leadership.

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Last updated: 2016-12-15 10:36

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