The Trump administration has quietly elevated Nazak Nikakhtaris, assistant secretary for industry and analysis at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, to performing the “nonexclusive duties” of the agency’s undersecretary for industry and security post.
The agency’s top position, which was formerly filled by Eric Hirschhorn during the Obama administration and by Mira Ricardel from August 2017 to April 2018 in the Trump administration, has remained vacant.
Nikakhtar, who was nominated by President Trump to become the assistant secretary for industry and analysis, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2018.
In this role, she serves as the Commerce Department’s primary liaison with U.S. industry and trade associations to help address industry concerns and support American competitiveness. She also heads the division that conducts research and analysis on manufacturing, services, travel and tourism, textiles and apparel, global trade, investment and economic trends that impact the International Trade Administration’s mission.
She also held prior roles with the International Trade Administration’s Enforcement and Compliance Unit in the China/Non-Market Economy Office, for which she oversaw numerous antidumping cases, advised on legal and regulatory matters related to the enforcement of U.S. trade laws and participated in bilateral negotiations on trade issues between the U.S. and China.
Nikakhtar also served as a BIS industry analyst, performing statistical analyses for the U.S. government’s first official survey of the U.S. biotechnology industry.
Since the start of the Trump administration, BIS’ upper management has been pockmarked by vacancies from both career civil servant retirements and lack of political appointments.
Former Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administration Carol Rose now is serving as BIS’ acting deputy undersecretary for industry and security, while Douglas R. Hassebrock is performing the “nonexclusive functions and duties” of the assistant secretary for export enforcement, as well as leading the Office of Export Enforcement. The agency’s chief counsel position remains vacant.
The agency’s other offices are currently led by managers, including Office of Strategic Industries and Economic Security (Michael Vaccaro), Office of National Security and Technology Transfer Controls (Eileen Albanese), Office of Nonproliferation and Treaty Compliance (Alexander Lopes), Office of Exporter Services (Karen Nies-Vogel), Office of Anti-boycott Compliance (Cathleen Ryan) and Office of Enforcement Analysis (Kevin Kurland).
BIS still has vacancies for its Office of Congressional and Public Affairs and Office of Technology Evaluation.