Secretary Chao Joins President Trump for Roads, Rails, and Regulatory Relief Event

WASHINGTON – Friday, June 9, Surrounded by hundreds of infrastructure workers and stakeholders, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined President Donald J. Trump in the closing event of ‘Infrastructure Week’ at Department Headquarters in Washington. Secretary Chao announced the Department has published a federal register notice seeking public input in order to identify and reduce unnecessary regulatory obstacles that too often stand in the way of completing important infrastructure projects across the nation.

“We are so fortunate because this President is a builder, he understands the challenges facing our country’s infrastructure better than any national leader in recent memory,” said Secretary Chao. “The Department has published a notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments from the public and all stakeholders on ways to improve government permitting; if you have any ideas, we want to hear from you!”

“The current process takes far too long,” said Secretary Chao. “Today, and all week, we have heard many recommendations from governors, mayors and other state officials who actually build things. A special DOT Task Force has already acted on what we’ve been hearing and identified dozens of ways to streamline the process.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen chairs the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, formed earlier this year in accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, which directs each agency to establish an RRTF to make recommendations to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens.

“This is part of a greater focus by the Administration to remain responsive to the needs of the public and industry, rather than pushing a ‘top down, government knows best’ approach to regulation,” said Deputy Secretary Rosen. “We expect this process will help us uncover ways to assist in better deploying infrastructure – ways we hadn’t even thought of.”

DOT is requesting input because public and private project sponsors, engineering and construction professionals, related industry organizations, and other transportation stakeholders are likely to have valuable direct experience with the Department’s requirements. That experience supplements the Department’s employees’ expertise and may help identify when a requirement has become an unnecessary obstacle.

The comment period will be open for 45 days at this link[external link]. All comments will be available in the public docket and available for public review. The Department has made engaging the public, especially affected stakeholders, a top priority.

Buy American, Hire American

On Tuesday, April 18th, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at strengthening and enforcing his “Buy American, Hire American” agenda.

President Trump visited Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, WI to tour the facility and deliver remarks highlighting his Administration’s commitment to helping American workers. The President told those in attendance, “I am proud to announce that we are about to take bold new steps to follow through on my pledge to buy American and hire American.”

The President’s Executive Order sends a clear message to the world, that his presidency will always defend American workers, American jobs, and American interests. Speaking to the many Wisconsin residents and Snap-on Tools employees, President Trump declared that “the policy of our government is to promote the use of American-made goods and to help ensure that American labor is hired to do the job.”

The President was joined by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Senator Ron Johnson, and his Chief of Staff and Kenosha native Reince Priebus. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Education Secretary DeVos also joined the President at Snap-on Tools.

President Trump is committed to fighting for American workers all across the country, and this Executive Order is one more step toward fulfilling that commitment. “We believe American projects should be made with American goods.”

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of President Xi Jinping of China

President Donald J. Trump will host President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago April 6–7, 2017. This will be the first meeting between President Trump and President Xi. The two leaders will discuss global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual concern. The President and the First Lady will also host President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan at a dinner on the evening of April 6.

USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2018 cap on April 3, 2017. All cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.

Congress set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met.

USCIS recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. While premium processing is suspended any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition will be rejected. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.

H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. The filing fee for Form I-129 has increased to $460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonored payment. If any fee payments are not honored by the bank or financial institution, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition without the option for the petitioner to correct it.

Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings (PDF, 278 KB), provides detailed information on how to complete and submit an FY 2018 H-1B petition.

For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and current Form I-129 processing times, visit the H-1B FY 2018 Cap Season Web page or call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired). To subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates go to the H1B FY 2018 Cap Season Web page.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

Perry Sworn in as 14th Secretary of United States Department of Energy

WASHINGTON – Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was sworn in on March 2, 2017, as the 14th Secretary of the United States Department of Energy.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve as the Secretary of the Department of Energy. As Secretary, I will advocate and promote American energy in all forms. America has been blessed with vast natural resources and the technology to utilize them. I am committed to helping provide stable, reliable, affordable, and secure sources of American energy. An American first energy strategy is important to create jobs and grow the economy.

“I am also committed to maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent while reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation. We will also continue the important mission of carrying out the environmental clean-up from the Cold War nuclear mission,” said Secretary Perry.
“I have a long record of aggressively courting leading scientific minds to set forth innovation, solutions, and job creation strategies. Our scientists and labs are the envy of the world, and I am a major proponent of maintaining American leadership in the area of scientific inquiry.”

During Perry’s 14 years as Governor, he proved economic growth and increased energy production can be accomplished alongside caring for the environment. During his tenure, Texas created 2.2 million jobs.

Texas led the nation in energy production — not just in oil and gas, but also in wind energy. Texas now produces more wind energy than all but six countries in the world.
Under his leadership, Texas reduced its carbon footprint by 17%, reduced sulfur dioxide by 56%, and nitrogen oxide by 66%. Despite having a rapidly growing population and one of the largest petrochemical refining industries in the world, Texas saw its air quality improve.

Perry brings the executive experience and management skills honed during his time as governor to the leadership of the Department of Energy.

Perry is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He married his childhood sweetheart, Anita, in 1982. They have two children and two granddaughters.

Follow Secretary Perry on Twitter.

Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. Sworn in as Secretary of Commerce by Vice President Mike Pence

Today Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence as 39th Secretary of Commerce. Secretary Ross will be the principal voice of business in the Trump Administration, ensuring U.S. entrepreneurs and businesses have the tools they need to create jobs and economic opportunity.

“President Trump used to say on the campaign trail that he had a three-part agenda for the American economy: Jobs, jobs, and jobs,” said Vice President Pence. “With Wilbur Ross as our new Secretary of Commerce, the President and I are confident that the Department of Commerce is going to take its right and leading role in fostering the growth that will create good-paying jobs for every American.”

Secretary Ross will work with businesses, universities, communities, and the Nation’s workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved standards of living. He succeeds Secretary Penny Pritzker, who served in the position under President Obama.

“I’m very gratified at the confidence that the President and the Vice President has shown in me and in the Department, and I promise I will live up to every word of my oath,” said Secretary Ross. “I was also very gratified by last night’s vote being 72 to 27, because that suggests that perhaps finally building America up again may become a bipartisan thing rather than contentious. I hope that spirit will carry over as people respond to the State of the Union message tonight.”

Secretary Ross is the former Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of WL Ross & Co. LLC and has over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience. Mr. Ross has restructured over $400 billion of assets in the airline, apparel, auto parts, banking, beverage, chemical, credit card, electric utility, food service, furniture, gypsum, home-building, insurance, marine transport, mortgage origination and servicing, oil and gas, rail car manufacturing and leasing, real estate, restaurants, shipyards, steel, textiles, and trucking industries. He has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries.

Named by Bloomberg Markets as one of the 50 most influential people in global finance, Mr. Ross is the only person elected to both the Private Equity Hall of Fame and the Turnaround Management Hall of Fame. He previously served as privatization advisor to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund.

 President Kim Dae-jung awarded Mr. Ross a medal for helping South Korea during its financial crisis and, in November 2014, the Emperor of Japan awarded him The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

As a philanthropist, Secretary Ross recently served as Chairman of the Japan Society, Trustee of the Brookings Institution and Chairman of its Economic Studies Council, the International Board of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Blenheim Foundation, the Magritte Museum in Brussels, and the Palm Beach Civic Association. He was also an Advisory Board Member of Yale University School of Management.

Secretary Ross is a graduate of Yale University and of Harvard Business School (with distinction). He and his wife Hilary Geary Ross have four children, Jessica Ross, Amanda Ross, Ted Geary, and Jack Geary.

U.S. Department of Commerce Report Shows Business Case for Apprenticeships

Nov 16, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the release of a Department of Commerce report, “The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective.” This report, authored by the Economics and Statistics Administration in partnership with Case Western Reserve University, is among the first of its kind in the U.S. that captures the employer perspective on the value of the apprenticeship model.

As part of President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of registered apprenticeships in the U.S. by the end of 2018, this report provides companies with hard data and compelling case studies to make the business case for the expansion of apprenticeship models within their own organizations.

“Through our Skills for Business agenda, the Department of Commerce has strongly supported the Obama Administration’s efforts to prepare America’s workers for the in-demand jobs of the 21st century. Expanding apprenticeships has been a significant part of our efforts,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This first-of-its kind report clearly demonstrates the value apprenticeships deliver to companies by helping fill jobs left empty, creating a more productive work force, reducing turnover and lowering recruiting costs. The earn-and-learn model is one that we can and should continue to expand across a more diversified set of industries to help meet the challenges faced by America’s workers and employers.”  

This report contains findings from 13 case studies of businesses and intermediaries that have experience and success in implementing registered apprenticeships. The programs varied in structure and cost from company to company, but all found that an investment in apprenticeship pays off. 

Key Findings Include

Across industries from manufacturing to construction, healthcare, retail, and IT, the single most common benefit of apprenticeships was filling jobs that otherwise sat vacant. 

Apprenticeships broadened companies’ recruiting pool by opening doors to less-skilled candidates from more diverse backgrounds who would otherwise not be recruited.

Internal production data from two companies helped put a dollar value on some of the benefits:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that its Medical Assistant apprenticeship program nearly paid for itself within the first year.

The program had an internal rate of return of 40 percent compared to using overtime with existing medical staff, and it was essential to a major expansion and re-organization of its provision of medical services.  

Reducing the long-term use of overtime also helped relieve staff burnout and turnover, while quality of care remained high after the MA apprentices were introduced.

Siemens USA obtains at least a 50 percent rate of return on its apprenticeship program, compared to hiring machinists off the street.

Most of the gains stem from how apprenticeship allows Siemens to more flexibly fill its capacity in Charlotte, NC, which makes generators for electric utilities. Apprentice grads’ flexibility helps the plant make full use of spare capacity, when available, such that the plant can seek and take generator repair work.

Siemens’ apprentice graduates are well suited for tasks like repair work, which involve more judgment than standard projects. One year of this additional capacity is worth an amount similar to the cost of a worker’s apprenticeship program. 

Apprentices also were more likely to finish their work on time, and were slightly more productive, compared to machinists hired off the street.

Costs for firms varied widely, from less than $25,000 to $250,000 per apprentice, and benefits were diverse, but the companies studied were unanimous and enthusiastic in finding the benefits to outweigh the costs and their commitments.

Surprisingly few companies calculated an internal return on investment (ROI) for their apprenticeship programs.  

Because there is little guidance on how to capture the return on investment and few firms explicitly collect the data to do so, this report provides a roadmap to help employers measure the costs and benefits of apprenticeships. 

The full report is available here:

Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Froman Announce Schedule for 27th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman today announced the schedule of events for the 27th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which will take place November 21-23, in Washington. Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman will host the Chinese delegation, led by Vice Premier of the State Council Wang Yang. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will also participate in the dialogue to address key agricultural trade issues between the two countries.

Donald Trump Wins the 2016 Election

In one of the most shocking U.S. elections in modern political history, Donald Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton.

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” Trump said in his victory speech after the Associated Press called the race for him at 2:30 am Wednesday morning. Striking a conciliatory tone, Trump continued, “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.”

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews and the Digital Economy Board of Advisors Convene in Silicon Valley

This week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews traveled to Silicon Valley to participate in two meetings of the Digital Economy Board of Advisors (DEBA). Established by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker earlier this year, the DEBA is comprised of technology industry leaders, innovators, and experts, and serves as a centralized forum to help businesses and consumers realize the potential of the digital economy to advance growth and opportunity. The Board provides advice in furtherance of increasing domestic prosperity, improving education, and facilitating participation in political and cultural life through the application and expansion of digital technologies.
On Thursday, Deputy Secretary Andrews moderated a discussion of the DEBA Working Group Coordinators’ Committee (WGCC), which included Working Group members and outside experts, representing corporations ranging from General Electric to Uber to Microsoft. Deputy Secretary Andrews expressed his interest in the WGCC’s advice on how the Department can transform to meet the demands of the 21st century economy and remain as relevant as possible to its constituents. The Deputy Secretary also received valuable information about what companies need from the Department of Commerce in today’s digital economy and how Commerce can improve its outreach to its constituents.

Today, Andrews delivered opening remarks at the second public meeting of the full DEBA, thanking members for their contributions to the Commerce Department’s successes in the digital economy space. The Deputy Secretary noted that under the Obama administration, the Department of Commerce has promoted a free and open Internet by implementing agreements such as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, and continues working to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which limits digital protectionism in the Asia-Pacific’s dynamic markets. Additionally, through the privatization of the Domain Name System, the Commerce Department has worked to protect Internet freedom worldwide and entrust Internet governance to the people, while continuing to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at home and abroad. In closing, the Andrews charged the Board with informing and inspiring the next Administration to make the digital economy a top priority.

Following his remarks, the Deputy Secretary had the opportunity to learn about each Working Group’s progress since their first meeting in May 2016, when each was charged with a unique mandate, ranging from structuring the Department of Commerce for the 21st century economy to empowering business to innovate, compete, and scale by leveraging digital platforms. Working group members were able to deliberate with other Board members on how to think boldly and creatively about what they must do to support innovation, inclusivity, opportunity, and growth in the digital economy.

This meeting was a critical step in the lead-up to the third and final meeting of the DEBA under the Obama administration on December 15, 2016. At that time, the DEBA will present the Commerce leadership with forward-looking, actionable recommendations for policies that will help keep the United States on the cutting edge of global, digital commerce in the 21st century.