Norton, Lee Claim Victory, Announce Spending Bills Require Federal Agencies to Report on Advertising with Minority and Women-Owned Media

Dec 19, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) claimed victory today, announcing that the final fiscal year 2020 Appropriations bills require federal agencies to report the amount spent on advertising contracts with small disadvantaged businesses and businesses owned by women and minorities to Congress. The language is based on a 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study Norton requested on advertising by the federal government.  Norton and Lee had sent letters to the House appropriations subcommittees requesting that they direct each agency under their jurisdiction to provide this information.  11 of 12 final fiscal year 2020 Appropriations bills require the reports.

“As the largest advertiser in the United States, the federal government has an obligation to ensure fair access for minority and women-owned media companies,” Norton said.  “This language is a significant win for transparency and will ensure that federal agencies are striving to reach minorities and women, who often get their news from outlets that serve more specific communities.”

“For far too long, federal agencies have overlooked minority-owned businesses for advertising contracts,” Lee said.  “I am proud to have helped secure this important report language in our appropriations bills to encourage our advertising dollars to be used with businesses that more equitably reflect our constituencies and ensure diversity in our federal contracting.”

Norton led Members of Congress in requesting the 2016 GAO report on agency advertising contracts.  Released in July 2018, the GAO reported that in fiscal year 2017, only 16 percent of the federal government’s advertising contract obligations went to businesses owned by minorities and women.