Who needs a Commerce secretary?


President Barack Obama sure is having a hard time finding someone to lead the Commerce Department. His first nominee, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, bowed out in early January because of an ongoing federal investigation into one of his political contributors. Obama’s second choice, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, abruptly withdrew his nomination last week after deciding that he couldn’t work in a Democratic administration.

Now all eyes are on Obama to find yet another candidate for the unheralded position. But there’s another solution, says Derek Shearer, a former deputy undersecretary at Commerce under President Clinton.

In this commentary from today’s Huffington Post, Shearer says Obama should consider abolishing the Commerce Department (something Obama’s No. 2 pick for the job voted to do in the 1990s).

He recommends spinning off the largely autonomous Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis into a new independent statistics agency and making the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology each their own separate independent agencies.

The remaining Commerce agencies that deal with the economy could be better packaged as a new Department of Industry and Trade, which would carry more heft and attract better leaders than the current department, Shearer contends.

It’s an interesting suggestion. So what do you think? Should Obama stop looking for a Commerce secretary and start looking for a reorganization chart?


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