Norton’s New Bill Encourages U.S. Government to Increase Minority and Women-Owned Media participation in Advertising Contracts

WASHINGTON — On May 8, 2019, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) formally introduced a bill that she and others hope will help to stop federal agencies from overlooking Black-, other minority-, and women-owned businesses when establishing advertising contracts.

The “Federal Government Advertising Equity Accountability Act”, formerly H.R. 7215, was reintroduced in the 116th Congress as H.R. 2576. The new bill requests and requires all federal agencies to include in their annual budget justifications the amount spent on advertising contracts with Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) and businesses owned by Blacks, women and other minorities in the previous fiscal year.

Bill Co-Sponsors
The legislation, which is co-sponsored by California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Wisconsin Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore, also requires that each agency provide projections of their spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

“The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) applauds and salutes the outstanding leadership of Congresswoman Norton for introducing one of the most important Congressional bills to potentially benefit the Black Press of America,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

NNPA - Founded in 1940“For too long, millions of annual federal advertising dollars have not been spent with Black-, other minority- and women-owned newspapers and media businesses,” Chavis said.

Chavis also thanked Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) for co-sponsoring “this game-changing legislation.”

“We further thank Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), and all the members of the CBC for their resolute support of the Black Press of America,” he said.

Appropriations Bills
Norton and Lee also sent letters to all 12 House appropriations subcommittees requesting that they direct each agency under their jurisdiction to include the pertinent information in their fiscal year 2021 budget justifications.

An accompanying House fiscal year 2020 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill – the first fiscal year 2020 report released thus far and the second largest appropriations bill – further directs the agencies to include data in their fiscal year 2021 budget justifications.

“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,” said Norton, who earlier this month was ranked as the most effective House Democrat by the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Led by professors at the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, the Center for Effective Lawmaking defines legislative effectiveness as the “proven ability to advance a member’s agenda items through the legislative process and into law.”

It’s that reason that Norton and the nation’s Black-, other minority- and women-owned media companies are optimistic that her proposed legislation will aid their businesses, which have long played a vital role in local communities.

“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,” Norton said.

Lee added that it’s important that federal agencies comply.

She said that African American-, women-, and other minority-owned businesses should always have a seat at the table when it comes to government advertising and contracts.

Government Accounting Office (GAO) Findings
In 2016, Norton led members of Congress in requesting a GAO report on their advertising contracts.

Released in July 2018, the GAO report 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.

“In 2017, the GAO examined spending on advertising contracts with minority-owned businesses by five agencies – the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – and found that only five percent of the $4.3 billion available for advertising contracts went to minority businesses,” Norton said.

“In light of these concerning figures, we, and several Members, sent a letter to the GAO in April 2016 requesting updated information on the amount of federal advertising dollars spent with SDBs and businesses owned by minorities and women,” she said.

“The GAO’s findings make it clear that there is still much progress to be made,” Norton said.

“BigTech”, “FinTech”, Prime/Sub Contractor, and Advertising Agency trends
Further, she said the regular collection of information on federal advertising contracts with SDBs and businesses owned by women and minorities is essential to bridging the divide between current statistics and a more inclusive advertising landscape.

“Collection would also promote transparency and encourage federal agencies to strive to reach minorities, who often receive their daily news from smaller media outlets that serve communities of color,” Norton said.

“Collection of this information would also demonstrate that the promotion of equity in advertising, and in all areas of government, should be a continuous effort that is central to the mission of every agency,” she said.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Photo credits NNPA and Black Press USA

bdpatoday | Paths Forward and Next Steps?

For Advertising and Public Relations Agencies

This bill primarily supports growth and sustainability for small community and county newspapers which include small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses in rural America and America’s largest urban metropolitan areas.  New federal advertising reporting requirements help federal prime contractors and their subcontractors meet and exceed public sector supplier diversity and small business goals for corporations who wish to continue to trade (win contracts) with the federal government.

  • Review and follow the new bill, H.R. 2576
  • Increase paid advertising with, small, minority, women, veteran-owned, and HBCU/MSI publications to meet or exceed diversity and inclusion goals
  • Include NNPA, NAHP, and HBCU/MSI publications in marketing and new advertising campaigns


For Publishers

This bill primarily supports growth and sustainability for small, minority, and women owned businesses, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) newspapers, National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) newspapers, and HBCU/MSI publications:

  • Review and follow the new bill, H.R. 2576
  • Download Congresswoman Norton’s “Dear Colleague Letter” to voice additional support and share with peers to directly send to Senators and Congressional Representatives
  • Increase readership and advertising revenues — pivot to TECH
  • Hire STEM interns; train more tech journalists
  • Regularly publish digital transformational trends with related career and government contracting opportunities
  • Publish articles for new readers by covering all vertical industry segments (i.e. health, transportation, manufacturing, banking, defense, etc.)
  • Modeled after “PARADE Magazine” featured every Sunday, NNPA and NAHP newspapers may consider supplementing weekly or monthly newspaper editions with “STEM” tabloids. For example, NNPA/NAHP “STEM Value Packs” may include:
  • Capturing new or more federal contracts for printing, publishing, and advertising?
    • Complete or update corporate profiles on the federal government’s System for Award Management  (SAM.gov) portal. A DUNS number, a CAGE Code, and appropriate NAICS code(s) are required for federal prime and subcontracts— new publishers, businesses, and start-ups should visit SBA.gov first
    • Research the market to sell products or services to the federal government. The Government Services Agency’s (GSA) acquisition solutions for small businesses and publishers offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, and IT to government organizations and the military. GSA is Uncle Sam’s “Amazon.”  Start here. → https://www.gsa.gov/small-business/get-started
    • Continuity of Operations and Disaster Recovery (CoOP/DR) contracts or Preparedness grants.  Secure publishing/printing opportunities with federal/state/local agencies in advance of natural disasters to publish updated instructions, emergency planning, maps, and shelter locations. Power, Internet access, and WiFi services may not be available during or after major disruptive events → https://www.fema.gov/grants
    • Review special requirements and contracting opportunities for HUB Zones or Opportunity Zones.   Several Historically Black College or University/Minority Serving Institution (HBCU/MSI) campuses are in rural areas, HUB Zones, and in some cases may be the largest employer in town
    • HBCU/MSI, NNPA, and NAHP publications also may expand community outreach, training, and career development opportunities into regional “news deserts” or distressed communities
    • Digital transformation, preservation, and archiving contracts or STEM grants.  Publishers and printers may secure new opportunities to help agencies and organizations transition their  documents and legacy data onto new multimedia platforms.
— bdpatoday

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