The Office of Consumer
February 1998 Report
The following agencies are included in
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS
"Married With Children" Describes Hispanic Households:
-- Married couples with children comprise 36 percent of Hispanic households.
Less than a quarter (24 percent) of non-Hispanic households are made up of married
couples with children.
-- Children are included in 52 percent of the 8.2 million Hispanic households.
Children are found in 33 percent of all non-Hispanic households.
-- An estimated 28.4 million persons of Hispanic origin resided in the United
States in 1996, representing 10.8 percent of the total population.
-- About one-half (53 percent) of all Hispanics 25 years and over had at least
a high school diploma in 1996.
For questions about the data, contact John Reed (301-457-2403). For more information, see
The Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1996 (P20-502). For ordering information,
contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:
OFFICE OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (OFFICE OF THE
Business Champions Program: Director spoke to a group of
Archbishop Carroll High School students about the importance
of business ethics in the workplace. Other speakers included
an official from the Small Business Administration, several
area business owners and a Carroll graduate who went from
shadowing to an internship and is now an assistant to a
business owner in addition to owning a successful small
business himself. Director is a member of the Business
Champions Program and serves on the Internship/Employment/
Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) Planning Meeting:
Director and staff attended a small group planning session
with members of the DSEF board of directors to discuss the
foundation=s consumer-education agenda for 1999. OCA has
worked with DSEF on several projects related to NAFTA and
"Connecting All Americans for the 21st Century: Telecommunications
Links in Low Income & Rural Communities": Director attended a conference
sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the
Public Utility Law Project, February 24-26, 1998. The conference addressed ways to improve
access to new telecommunications technology for low income and rural communities and strategies
to connect and network those communities. Speeches by Vice President Albert Gore,
Secretary William Daley, and Assistant Secretary Larry Irving highlighted the conference.
Smart Cards and the Future of Money: Director attended the MasterCard Money Forum on February 12
where Richard Phillimore, Senior Vice President, Chip Card Business Development, MasterCard International,
and David Medine, Associate Director for Credit Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission,
discussed both the convenience and liability of smart cards.
Constituent Contacts: During February 1998, OCA responded to 116 requests from constituents.
Trade Compliance Center: The U.S. Department of Commerce, as part of the Clinton Administration
strategy to further step up the pace against unfair trade practices, established the Trade Compliance Center (TCC)
in July 1996 and now has announced that the "TCC On-Line" service is now open and available to the public. This service
will allow U.S. exporters to file market access and trade agreements complaints instantly through an electronic
mail hotline via the Internet. A series of articles on the subject and specific TCC initiatives in the
coming months can be found in the February 1998 issue of Business America, the ITA magazine of international trade.
African American Cultural Exposition and Trade Fair: MBDA sponsored an African American cultural
expo and trade fair in commemoration of the national African American History Month. The expo and trade
fair was held in the lobby of the Herbert C. Hoover Building. Vendors sold a diverse array of clothing,
accessories, artwork, crafts, jewelry, books and food.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND
Sharks Protected in Federal Ruling That
Supports Precautionary Approach: In a victory for natural
resource conservation, Judge Steven D. Merryday of the U.S.
District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that
strong management measures were justified to stabilize
Atlantic shark populations, officials with the Commerce
Department=s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
announced. The ruling, which is in response to a suit brought
against the agency for reducing shark quotas because of
overfishing, confirms that the fisheries service's science is sound.
In his ruling, Judge Merryday ordered that shark quota reductions remain in place pending further
analysis of economic impacts on fishermen, to be completed on
or before May 1, 1998.
Fisheries Service Proposes Protection for
13 Salmon and Steelhead Populations on West Coast: The
NMFS proposed to protect under the Federal Endangered Species
Act more than a dozen salmon and steelhead population in
Washington, Oregon, and California that are heading toward
extinction. A final decision on all these populations will be
made next year. The populations formally proposed for
protection range from sockeye salmon in tiny Ozette Lake in
Washington's rugged Olympic Peninsula to chinook salmon
in the state's heavily urbanized Puget Sound.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF
STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY
Failure of Tiny Rivets May Have Sunk "Unsinkable" Liner: When the remains of the RMS
Titanic were discovered more than two miles beneath the
surface of the North Atlantic in 1985, the story of the great
liner once dubbed "unsinkable" by the press began moving from legend into scientific fact.
Numerous research investigations have been piecing together
the details of what really occurred on April 14-15, 1912,
after Titanic struck an iceberg, broke in half and
carried more than 1,500 people to their deaths. Now, the
answer to one of the most elusive questions--Why did the
46,000-ton ship sink in less than three hours?--may be
contained in a new report from NIST.
The culprit, says NIST metallurgist Timothy Foecke in the report, is very possibly
one of Titanic'ssmallest components--the 3 million wrought iron rivets used
to hold the hull sections together.
Foecke performed metallurgical and mechanical analyses on steel and rivet
samples recovered from the Titanic's hull. His examinations revealed that the wrought iron in the
rivets contained three times today's allowable amount of slag (the glassy residue left behind
after the smelting of ore), making it less ductile and more
brittle than it should have been. This finding provides
strong evidence that Titanic's collision with the iceberg caused the rivet heads to break
off, popped the fasteners from their holes and allowed water
to rush in between the separated hull plates.
Photographs of Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic, back up the rivet
failure theory. Taken after the Olympic collided with
another vessel in 1911, the photos clearly show dozens of
vacant holes in the hull where rivets once sat. Sonar and
other evidence gathered during a 1996 visit to the Titanic
also point to seam and rivet failure. For a single copy of Metallurgy
of the RMS Titanic (NISTIR 6118) send a request to Public
Inquiries by fax at (301) 926-1630 or by e-mail at
"Baldrige Index" Outperforms S&P 500 Again: For
the fourth year in a row, the fictitious "Baldrige Index" has outperformed the
Standard & Poor's 500 by almost 3 to 1. The "Baldrige Index" is made up of publicly
traded U.S. companies that have received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Award during the years 1988 to 1996. NIST invested a
hypothetical $1,000 in each of the six whole company winners
of the Baldrige Award--ADAC Laboratories, Eastman Chemical
Co., Federal Express Corp., Motorola Inc., Solectron Corp.
and Zytec Corp. The investments were tracked from the first
business day of the month following the announcement of award
recipients (or the date they began public trading) to
December 1, 1997. Adjustments were made for stock splits.
Another $1,000 was hypothetically invested in the S&P 500
at the same time. NIST found that the group of six
outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 2.7 to 1, achieving
a 394.5 percent return on investment compared to a 146.9
percent return for the S&P 500.
A similar hypothetical investment in a group made up of the six whole company
Baldrige Award winners and the parent companies of 12
subsidiary winners outperformed the S&P 500 by 2.4 to 1,
a 362.3 percent return on investment compared to a 148.3
percent return for the S&P. A copy of the three-page
stock study is available on the Internet at
Two New Quality Categories Proposed for
FY 1999: Non-profit education and health care
organizations will be able to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award next year if funding is approved as
part of President Clinton's fiscal year 1999 budget proposal. The proposed budget
includes $2.3 million for the new award categories. The new
Baldrige award programs could help these organizations
In May 1997, the private Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Award announced a $15 million endowment drive to help
establish the new awards, provided Federal funding also is
The education and health care sectors have expressed strong interest in
establishing Baldrige awards for these communities. In 1995,
NIST conducted a successful pilot program to determine the
interest and readiness of these organizations in
participating in a Balldrige Award program. Since then,
Federal funding has not been available to continue the pilots
or to establish award categories.
More than 40 state quality award programs are based on the Baldrige Award
program, and 35 of these recognize health care and education
The 1999 Budget also includes $3.1 million for the existing Baldrige Quality Award
Proposals Sought for New Learning Technologies Program: A new Advanced Technology Program
(ATP) focused program in Adaptive Learning Systems and the
start of its first competition were announced on February 2,
1998, by Commerce Secretary William M. Daley. The new program
will help support high-risk research and development by
industry to develop new infrastructure technologies based on
information networks such as the World Wide Web.
The goal of the focused program is to ultimately put powerful tools for developing
interactive instructional software in the hands of educators
and other content specialists. Future "Aadaptive learning systems" envisioned will
reduce the cost of producing and disseminating educational materials, improve
instructional effectiveness and workplace productivity, and
make training and learning more accessible than ever before.
The competition announcement for the ATP program in Adaptive Learning Systems
appeared in the February 2, 1998, Commerce Business Daily
and can be found on the Internet at the following address:
http://www.atp.nist.gov/www/press/cbd98-09.htm. The deadline
for proposals is 3 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, May 13,
1998. For more information, including an ATP Proposal
Preparation Kit, contact the ATP at (800) ATP-FUND
(287-3863), fax: (301) 926-9524 or e-mail: atp@NIST.gov
The Web 100--FedWorld and the IRS Digital Daily (operated by FedWorld) were listed
in the top 100 Web sites for Government and politics. Consumers can connect to FedWorld's
Web site at http://www.fedworld.gov and may also visit the NTIS Home Page at http://www.ntis.gov.
WORLDTEC: The NTIS has launched a new online
subscription service, Worldtec. For the first time online,
users can access timely and retrospective information on
developments in foreign science and technology initiatives
from dozens of sources. Accessible 24-hours a day, the
Worldtec Web site brings consumers English-language reports
on the most recent worldwide technology developments in areas
such as microelectronics and biotechnology. Worldtec also
includes information on science policy and budgets,
conferences, and other business opportunities and provides
material that, until recently, had been under restrictive use
only. For only $25 a month, it enables consumers to search
online and review significant events, breakthroughs and
discoveries in foreign research and industrial technology.
This reliable, unbiased reporting is from U.S. Government
agencies, cables, and reports from science counselors and
other staff of U.S. embassies abroad. Consumers can visit the
site at http://worldtec.fedworld.gov.
National Organic Program: NTIS and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are co-hosting a
Web site for public comments on the National Organic Program.
This rule proposes a nationwide standard for determining what
food products can be labeled organic. The online rule-making
process, initiated December 15, will continue for 90 days.
Other written comments received on letters, faxes, and
e-mails are also uploaded onto the Web page for public
review. NTIS has received thousands of registered comments on
the Web site. In an article in the February 23 issue of Government
Computer News entitled "USDA Rule Proposal Draws Abundant Online Comments,"
USDA describes the exchange of online comments about the
organic food rule and praises NTIS online comments about the
organic food rule and praises NTIS for its technical Web
system. Register, view, download, and search the comments
online at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop.
Surviving Chemical and Biological Warfare: NTIS assisted ABC News in preparing a
story on surviving chemical and biological warfare. Information and reports will
appear in a story on ABC's Nightline before the second week of March.
Products of High Interest: (Unless otherwise indicated, call the NTIS Sales Desk at
1-800-553-NTIS to order these products.)
-- EPA Solid Waste Test Methods on CD-ROM: An interview was
conducted with Environment Testing and Analysis
Magazine about the new EPA Solid Waste Test
Methods on CD-ROM. The article, to appear in the
April issue, will focus on the features of the CD-ROM,
including search options and cross-reference tables.
(NTIS Product Number PB97-501928, $125)
-- NIOSH Quick Guide to Chemical Hazards: The monthly software
column in the March issue of Chemical and Engineering
News will feature the NIOSH Quick Guide to
Chemical Hazards. (NTIS Product Number PB97-502850,
Promotional Material: (Call the NTIS Sales Desk at (1-800-553-NTIS to order this free material.)
Audiovisual Center Catalog of Multimedia and Training Products
PR-1047 Seeing is Believing, Catalog of Audiovisual Educational Materials