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Patrick Gallagher
Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Swearing-In Ceremony
Nov. 20, 2009


Wow. Thank you very much. I want to start—this is going to sound like an acceptance speech, but of course it’s not—I want to start with some thank yous, and I want to start Mr. Secretary with you, first of all, obviously, for recommending me for this position, for your support and especially for your leadership. I’ve said this several times that Secretary Locke has focused the Department of Commerce on the essential task of promoting economic recovery, both immediate and long term, by looking at innovation, growth and jobs, and I could not think of a more compelling and powerful goal for the Department. And NIST, in my belief, plays a key role, and I’m very proud to serve with you and your team. I’m just delighted for the opportunity, and I hope to live up to your trust in me. So I appreciate that very much.

I also want to thank Congressman David Wu for joining me today. He’s made his first visit to NIST. We had a very enjoyable tour this morning. He’s a critical member of Congress in supporting NIST through his position as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. His leadership and support of NIST has been essential to our success, and I’m deeply honored by your presence here today, so I want to thank you very much.

And there are a number of Congressional staff members here, and I’m very touched and honored by your presence here today. One of the great privileges I had in preparing for my nomination was to go on the Hill and meet many members, and one of the things I committed to was to have a close and effective working relationship with Congress. I want to repeat that commitment to you today. It’s essential, and it’s very important.

I also want to thank and recognize my family. Yesterday at the awards ceremony for the Department of Commerce, Mr. Secretary, you noted that public service is a shared responsibility, and it’s shared most directly with the families around us. I simply could not do what I do without your love and support, and so I want to thank you all very much.

And finally, I want to thank my NIST family that’s gathered in front of me. I arrived here over 16 years ago, younger, a little less gray, fewer kids, and in actuality it was the beginning of my professional career. And I have to tell you it was a dream job. It was something that I wasn’t sure I could aspire to do, but I was delighted to be here. I have had the great privilege and honor of working with some of the smartest, most dedicated, committed colleagues that I think exist, and I have learned a great deal from you. In some sense you have trained me. And since we have shared so much together, I think you can imagine, maybe better than anyone, the deep sense of honor and humility I feel at being asked, nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, to serve as your director.

NIST is really at a critical juncture. We are being asked to do incredibly important things for the country. Why? I think NIST has always operated at the interface of technology and industry—acting very much like our financial agencies, serving to secure trust in commerce by defining, measuring, and facilitating the movement of ideas, quantities and materials in our economy. This is critical to commerce itself, to trade and to enabling new technology. As our economy is becoming even more dependent on the movement of these things, our role has become even more indispensible, and so we are being asked to do incredibly important things, and we are finding ourselves at the forefront of some of the President’s and the Secretary’s key administrative priorities.

Our mission also places us at the interface between fundamental and basic measurement science, and the application of that science and measurements to real world problems in industry and society. That unique positioning, to paraphrase President Lincoln, puts us at the boundary where the fuel of interest is added to the fire of genius to discover and produce new and useful things.

We really are the nation’s innovation agency, and our four major programs are essential to the President’s innovation agenda. So, while we have never been asked to do so much, it is also true that it has never been so important that we succeed. But NIST is built on an incredibly firm foundation…you.

The dedication, commitment and integrity and excellence of NIST have served us well in our past, and they will be the basis for meeting these great challenges. I am deeply honored to join you in this endeavor, and I look forward to the great things we will accomplish together.

Thank you very much.