Scope of the Position:

The Deputy Secretary administers the day-to-day operations of the Department of Commerce (DOC). The person also works to carry out the Department's mission to foster business development and acts as a representative to the president on economic growth. The position coordinates efforts between the public and private sectors to enhance employment and job creation, build the nation's economy, and improve the U.S. standard of living. The Deputy Secretary coordinates efforts across the agencies and exercises policy direction and general oversight of programming and operations throughout the Department. The position also acts as a representative for the Department before Congress and other policymaking bodies. The Department of Commerce currently has a $9.7 billion discretionary budget and 47,000 employees in 13 bureaus.

Illustrative Management Challenges:

According to the DOC Inspector General, improving operational processes is integral for the success of the Department.1 This includes strengthening cybersecurity practices through the implementation of basic security measures required by National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) risk management framework. Suggestions from the IG include a commitment to improve security assessments and strengthen accident detection and Departmental response. These measures are aimed at instilling greater protection against cyber attacks. The Enterprise Security Operations Center (ESOC) Initiative is another effort that works to impart situational awareness to senior Departmental and operating unit managers.2 The March 2016 Semiannual Report suggests that Department management continues to maintain a strong commitment to the ESOC's implementation throughout all DOC bureaus. The report also addresses issues regarding the Department's ability to monitor and report financial activity across its operating units. These difficulties have been recognized in the IG's past three reports. Another point of issue has been the lack of Departmental "culture of accountability." The report also suggests that senior leadership "create a culture that supports OIG's oversight function by encouraging all employees to cooperate with OIG audits, inspections, and investigations." The Department's FY 2014-2015 reported approximately 20,000 hours of paid time to employees who had not worked, resulting in a Departmental loss of $1.1 million. 


      1Top Management Challenges Facing the Department of Commerce in Fiscal Year 2016;; October 6, 2015.
      2March 2016 Inspector General Semiannual Report to Congress;; March 31, 2016.

Deputy Secretaries of Energy:

Deputy Secretaries of Commerce lack a common experience that ties them all together. Past position holders are seemingly split between private and public sector experience. Many Deputy Secretaries were formerly CEOs or executives of large private sector firms, while others were high-level officials in both federal and state governments. 

Current Incumbent:

Bruce Andrews (2014-present): Andrews was named Acting Deputy Secretary on June 9, 2014, but was soon after confirmed as Deputy Secretary by the Senate.  In 2007, Andrews joined Ford Motor Company as the Vice President of Governmental Affairs, a position followed by time as the General Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Previously, he worked as an attorney specializing in cases pertaining to transportation, telecommunications, financial services, and other related issues. Andrews began his career on Capitol Hill in various capacities and offices. He holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.

Previous Deputy Secretaries:

Patrick D. Gallagher (Acting) (2013-2014): Gallagher currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to his appointment as Acting Deputy Secretary, Gallagher served almost two decades in public service, including as Director for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, for which he was confirmed on November 5, 2009. Gallagher holds a PhD in physics from the University of Pittsburgh.

Rebecca Blank (2010-2013): Blank currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Upon her appointment to Deputy Secretary in 2010, Blank implemented an emphasis on research and its ability to lead to increased job creation and growth. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Secretary, Blank had several decades of experience researching and crafting economic policy. She served as Dean of Public Policy at the University of Michigan from 1999-2008. She holds bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dennis F. Hightower (2009-2010): Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Hightower held various senior leadership positions in companies including Xerox, McKinsey & Company, and General Electric, among others. In 1987, Hightower took up a position as President of Disney Consumer Products for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Hightower also worked as a part of the faculty for Harvard Business School as a Senior Lecturer. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.

John J. Sullivan (2008-2009): Sullivan currently works as a partner at Mayer Brown's Washington, D.C., law office. Prior to his tenure as Deputy Secretary, Sullivan served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and Counsel to the President. He has also been a senior advisor in four presidential campaigns. Sullivan was previously appointed as President on the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. He earned his JD from Columbia University School of Law.

David A. Sampson (2005-2007): Sampson currently serves as the President and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Sampson served as the Chair of the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness and the Vice Chair of the Texas Strategic Economic Development Planning Commission. He also served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arlington, Texas, Chamber of Commerce. In 2001, Sampson was appointed Assistant Secretary of Economic Development. He also completed the Program for Senior Executives at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Theodore W. Kassinger (2004-2005): Kassinger currently works with O'Melveny & Myers LLP and counsels clients involved in transnational business transactions, particularly those involving international trade and investment regulatory matters. Kassinger began his career with the Department of Commerce in 2001 when he was appointed General Counsel, serving as chief advisor for legal and ethical issues. Preceding his time with the Department, Kassinger spent over a decade practicing international law. He also worked in various positions within the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. He holds a JD from the University of Georgia.

Samuel W. Bodman (2001-2003): Bodman most recently served as Secretary of Energy, and as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury prior to that. He previously served in senior leadership positions in companies including the Bank of Boston, John Hancock, and Mead Westvaco, among others. Bodman worked at Cabot Corporation where he served in various capacities including CEO, Director, and Chairman. He began his business career with Fidelity Venture Associates and served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Fidelity Investments, and he served as director of Fidelity Group of Mutual Funds. Bodman earned a BS in chemical engineering from Cornell University and a doctorate at MIT.

Robert L. Mallett (1997-2001): Mallett currently serves as the President and CEO of Africare. He previously worked as the Washington D.C. City Administrator and Deputy Mayor under Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelley. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law Center and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Mallett began his legal career in Washington, D.C., as an associate at Kaye Scholer LLP. He holds a JD from Harvard Law School.

Dave Barram (1993-1996): Barram currently serves as CEO of PayWi Corporation. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, he served as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance for Apple Inc. Barram also spent time with the company as a Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Vice President of Corporate Communications. Prior to that, he served as Chief Financial Officer for Silicon Graphics, Inc. Barram worked for 13 years in the finance and marketing departments with Hewlett-Packard. He earned his BA in economics and political science from Wheaton College and his MBA from Santa Clara University.

John A. Rollwagen (1993): John Rollwagen currently serves as Co-Founder and Principal at Quatris. Preceding his appointment, he was President of Cray Research. Rollwagen was also appointed to the Advisory Committee for Trade and Policy and Negotiations by President Reagan. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Additional Resources: