Challenges Await Gregg at Commerce
The nomination of Sen. Judd Gregg to serve as commerce secretary signals the New Hampshire Republican will have a big role to play in convincing lawmakers to support President Obama's economic proposals. It's also expected he will focus on entitlement reform, an issue he's worked on in the past as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
But Gregg and his deputy secretaries also will face challenges of their own at Commerce, with the department and its agencies responsible for at least two major -- and high-profile -- initiatives in the coming years.
First, the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has overseen the transition to digital television, which likely will be extended by four months amid concerns that millions of television viewers may not be ready for the big switch.
And as The Eye first noted early last month when Bill Richardson was first tapped to head Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, one of 12 Commerce bureaus, is preparing for its decennial survey of Americans. Estimates suggest the bureau will spend at least $2 billion visiting households that fail to return their census forms by the April 1, 2010 due date. It also will need to decide if it will allow citizens to submit Census information online.
Presidential transition experts at the Council for Excellence in Government suggest President Obama must now move quickly to fill several mid-level Commerce positions, including under secretary positions for economic affairs and international trade and the directors of the Census and National Institute of Standards and Technology.
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