Last edited 11/30/2020

At the DOC-DOI Joint Release of the First Set of GDP Estimates for the Territories
Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, May 5, 2:00 p.m.

It is with great pleasure that I join you today.  As Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I am honored to be a part of this event, because as dry as statistical information and data may be to some (no offense to the data researchers/gurus in the room) – esp. considering what we have to compete with in the world of 24 hour news cycles, behind these stats are real lives, families, businesses, economies – what it means to prosper as a community and society.  With GDP estimates, and other data on the territories, we, as the federal government, can do a better job fulfilling our responsibilities:   which is serving the public good in the best way possible.  And determining the economic state, potential for growth and development of the territories, is key to prosperity – more so than ever especially during these challenging economic times for so many around the world.

It also helps the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders fulfill our mandate:  which is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, by increasing access to and participation in programs in which they remain underserved. 

Without data collection, achieving our mandate becomes nearly impossible.  Data collection is so critical to understanding the issues that impact Pacific Islander communities and other Asian American communities, even more critical for where there is so little information in the first place; AND most importantly, comprehensive data collection ensures that the proper government, private and community resources reach the Pacific Islander community.  Since I started as Executive Director, there is not one meeting with community and national leaders (including Members of Congress here today) that the importance of data collection hasn't come up. 

And within the Executive Order that the President signed in October 2009 that created the White House Initiative, there will be an Interagency Working Group (including both the Dept of Interior and Commerce, and 23 other agencies and offices).  The EO sets forth a very specific requirement for agencies to foster evidence-based research, data collection and analysis on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and subpopulations on public health, the environment, education, housing, employment and other economic indicators. 

So I commend my colleagues here today on bringing us one step closer to our goal as the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and I commend you for your work, initiative, and collaborative efforts.  We will most definitely hold this collaboration and effort as an example for other agencies.

Please know that you have a strong ally in this work – us, the Initiative.  From day one, when I became Executive Director, I was quite clear that through this Initiative we will provide a strong voice for the Pacific Islander communities, from the make-up of our 20-person commission that will represent the voices of the Pacific Islander communities, to our outreach efforts, and the type of programs and resources we deliver.  I am confident that we will be successful because of the wonderful partnership we have developed with the Department of the Interior, including Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Tony Babauta; Director, Nik Pula, and Members of Congress and other officials from the region. 

Congratulations again, on a job well done.

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