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Commerce, United States Department of

Commerce, United States Department of, federal executive department charged with promoting U.S. economic development and technological advancement. In Feb., 1903, the Congress established a Department of Commerce and Labor empowered to investigate and report upon the operations of corporations engaged in interstate commerce (with the exception of common carriers). The first secretary was G. B. Cortelyou. In 1913 the Department of Labor was established as a separate executive department, while the functions of the Department of Commerce were expanded; the chief officer of each department, the secretary, received cabinet rank. Among its tasks are taking of censuses, promotion of American business at home and abroad, establishing standard weights and measures, and issuing patents and registering trademarks. Agencies under control of the secretary of commerce include the Economics and Statistics Administration (comprising the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis), the Bureau of Export Administration, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration, the Minority Business Development Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Technology Administration (comprising the Office of Technology Policy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Technical Information Service).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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