The United States Department of Commerce (DOC), is one of the Cabinet-level agencies of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. It cultivates economic opportunity and growth for working U.S. citizens by:

  • Supporting American businesses in the United States as well as overseas.
  • Promoting U.S. exports and foreign trade.
  • Regulating the export of sensitive technologies and goods.
  • Circulating economic studies and statistics that can be used by the public, businesses and the government.
  • Gathering demographic and economic data that quantifies the well-being of the economy.
  • Implementing international trade agreements.
  • Issuing trademarks and patents.
  • Supporting technological, engineering and scientific research and development.

What Does the Secretary of Commerce Do?

As the head of the Department of Commerce, the Secretary of Commerce nurtures a relationship with the business community in order to develop and grow job opportunities and industries for American workers.

The Commerce Secretary is responsible for representing U.S. businesses within the President’s Cabinet, interacting with communities, businesses, universities, and American workers, and promoting economic growth, job creation and balanced economic development.

The Department of Commerce consists of 12 bureaus that work in unison in order to enhance the U.S. economy. As part of a broad mission, the DOC manages the following offices:

  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • International Trade Administration
  • National Technical Information Service
  • Census Bureau
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Economics and Statistics Administration
  • Patents, Trademarks and Licenses
  • Patent and Trademark Office
  • Bureau of Industry and Security
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • National Weather Service
  • National Ocean Service
  • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
  • Office of Marine and Aviation Operations
  • Office of Program Planning and Integration
  • Economic Development Administration
  • Minority Business Development Agency

How Does a Person Become Commerce Secretary?

An individual gets the position of Secretary of Commerce by being appointed by the President of the United States and receiving majority consent by the U.S. Senate.

What Experience Does the Secretary Need to Have?

The candidate for Secretary of Commerce that the President chooses can come from a vast array of career backgrounds. The person may have worked in education, law, the military, economics, business, or have held a position in a previous government post.    

There is an “ineligibility clause,” though, in the United States Constitution stating that a person serving as Secretary in the President’s Cabinet is not allowed to simultaneously serve as a member of the House of Representatives during his or her tenure as Secretary.

Other than the ineligibility clause, the President has no restrictions on who may be selected as the nominee for Secretary of Commerce.

How Long Does a Secretary Stay in Office?

The President of the United States can terminate the serving Secretary at will and appoint a replacement during the time he or she is President. The Secretary of Commerce typically resigns when a new President is elected. The incoming Secretary of Commerce must go through the nominating process again.

The work of the Department of Commerce is generally overlooked and taken for granted. Many citizens simply don’t realize how important the department is and how influential the Commerce Secretary can be. The efforts this person makes in promoting economic programs for the sake of the average U.S. citizen play a major role in the health of the American economy. 

It is the goal of the Commerce Department to enhance economic growth and to stimulate progress for the United States economy. Such stimulus may come directly from the Secretary, or may be engineered in collaboration with the President.