Commerce Department-USA

Department of Commerce

The Department of Commerce was originally created as the US Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903. It was subsequently renamed the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, as the bureaus and agencies specializing in labor were transferred to the new Department of Labor.

The period between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitutional Convention in 1787 had been tumultuous, marked by discord among the newly independent states. Trade had become particularly troublesome. At the time, much of the commerce between states was conducted along the Atlantic seaboard and via the waterways flowing into the Atlantic or the inland rivers. The Articles of Confederation allowed each state the freedom to create regulations, tariffs, and currency and to tax neighboring states using their ports and throughways for interstate or foreign commerce.

In 1785, legislators from Virginia and Maryland recognized the need to work together to ensure mutually profitable commerce on the shared waterways of the Potomac River and agreed to meet. George Washington, interested in plans to finance navigational improvements that would push the Potomac route westward to the Shenandoah and Ohio Valleys, offered the hospitality of Mount Vernon for the conference. A 13-point agreement, covering tidewater navigational rights, toll duties, commerce regulations, fishing rights and debt collections, was drawn.

On February 14, 1903, Congress approved legislation (S.359) creating a Department of Commerce and Labor and President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill (32 Statute 825) that same day. Two days later, Roosevelt nominated his personal secretary, George B. Cortelyou, to be the first Secretary. He was sworn in on February 18, 1903.

The new Department of Commerce and Labor was one of the largest and most complicated in Government. It included a Bureau of Corporations, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Navigation, Light House Board, Steamboat Inspection Service, Bureau of Statistics, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Bureau of Standards, Bureau of Census, Bureau of Fisheries, and the still to be organized Bureau of Manufactures. The Department of Labor became once more a Bureau of Labor and accounted for only one percent of all personnel.

The Department of Commerce encourages, serves, and promotes the Nation’s international trade, economic growth, and technological advancement. The Department provides a wide variety of programs through the competitive free enterprise system. It offers assistance and information to increase America’s competitiveness in the world economy; administers programs to prevent unfair foreign trade competition; provides social and economic statistics and analyses for business and government planners; provides research and support for the increased use of scientific, engineering, and technological development; works to improve our understanding and benefits of the Earth’s physical environment and oceanic resources; grants patents and registers trademarks; develops policies and conducts research on telecommunications; provides assistance to promote domestic economic development; and assists in the growth of minority businesses.


Departments and agencies (agencies) in the executive branch adopt regulations that impose legally binding requirements on the public even though, in our constitutional democracy, only Congress is vested with the legislative power. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires agencies, in exercising that solemn responsibility, to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking to provide public notice of proposed regulations under section 553 of title 5, United States Code, allow interested parties an opportunity to comment, consider and respond to significant comments, and publish final regulations in the Federal Register.[ Executive order Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents October 9, 2019]



  1. Census Bureau
  2. Economic Analysis Bureau
  3. Economic Development Administration
  4. Economics and Statistics Administration
  5. Export Administration Bureau
  6. Foreign-Trade Zones Board
  7. Industry and Security Bureau
  8. International Trade Administration
  9. Minority Business Development Agency
  10. National Institute of Standards and Technology
  11. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  12. National Shipping Authority
  13. National Technical Information Service
  14. National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  15. Patent and Trademark Office
  16. Technology Administration
  17. Travel and Tourism Administration
  18. Under-Secretary for Economic Affairs


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce

Categories: CIVIL

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