Commerce to measure business-to-business e-commerce activity

For the first time, business-to-business electronic commerce activity will be measured in a survey, U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley announced last week.

Daley said Friday the department would survey tens of thousands of manufacturers, service organizations, wholesalers and retailers over the next few months to find out exactly how much they bought and sold via the Internet.

"And next year, when we release the results, it will be the benchmark number on this aspect of business-to-business e-commerce," Daley said.

Daley's announcement was part of an outline of Commerce's overall e-commerce activities for the upcoming year, delivered in an address to the Fairfax County, Va., Chamber of Commerce. He said Commerce ( is increasingly relying on the Internet to improve services, such as allowing people to apply for certain patents online.

Daley said progress has been slow but steady on his goal of transforming Commerce into an all-digital department by 2002. This initiative will get a boost later this year, when a departmental intranet is completed.

"It's something many companies had three years ago, but it's coming and we will use it to increase worker productivity and improve the quality of services we deliver to the taxpayers of America," he said.

In March, Commerce economists will release the first government data on the amount of e-tailing that occurred this past holiday season. "It's a very small percentage of retail sales, but it causes markets to move...[and] this will be the benchmark for all statistics," Daley said.

With regard to copyright law, Daley said the United States is one of only 10 nations to adopt the two treaties developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization that protect copyrighted movies, music and creative works sold via the Internet. But 30 countries still need to ratify the treaties, and this year Daley will "mount a full-court press to get more nations on board," he said.

And to help bridge the digital divide — the technology gap between the nation's rich and poor — Daley said Commerce will ask Congress for $28 million in 2001 for historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal institutions — double the current level of spending.


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