WASHINGTON, D.C. – During National Small Business Week, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) t introduced a bill that requires federal agencies to include in their annual budget justifications the amount they spent on advertising contracts with small disadvantaged businesses and businesses owned by women and minorities in the previous fiscal year, as well as projections of their spending for the upcoming fiscal year. Norton and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) also sent letters to all 12 House appropriations subcommittees requesting that they direct each agency under their jurisdiction to include this information in their fiscal year 2021 budget justifications. The report accompanying the House’s fiscal year 2020 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, the first fiscal year 2020 report released thus far, directs the agencies to include this information in their fiscal year 2021 budget justifications. The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill is the second largest appropriations bill.
“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. “My bill would ensure that federal agencies are striving to reach minorities and women, who often get their news from outlets that serve more specific communities.”
“It is imperative that we in Congress help to stop federal agencies from overlooking minority-owned businesses when establishing advertising contracts,” Lee said. “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill to encourage spending our advertising dollars with businesses that more equitably reflect our constituencies.”
In 2016, Norton led Members of Congress in requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on their advertising contracts. The GAO report, released in July 2018, showed that in fiscal year 2017, only 16 percent of the federal government’s advertising contract obligations went to businesses owned by minorities and women. The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI).