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October 26, 2007

The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) has been monitoring closely the issues surrounding the 8(a) business development program and other contracting programs designed to assist small- and minority-business owners in accessing the federal marketplace. Following the August release of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on Advertising contracting and Congressional Subcommittee meetings on Government Management, Organization and Procurement, AHAA’s leadership engaged the association in an initiative to enforce government standards in advertising and communications contracts.

Competition is essential to ensure that the Hispanic marketplace remains vibrant and healthy but more importantly, AHAA believes government agencies are not benefiting from the Hispanic marketing expertise necessary to connect with the Hispanic community that is often the primary target for proposed government outreach. AHAA member agencies are experts in reaching Hispanic audiences and should not be relegated to subcontractor status to mainstream advertising firms in order to respond to government contract opportunities.

Hispanic-specialized firms – AHAA member agencies – are not provided an equal opportunity to compete for government contracts. Obstacles impeding AHAA agencies from direct access to contract opportunities must be eliminated. Contracts must be unbundled: government agencies have increasingly consolidated contractual requirements into larger contracts and used limited and simplified competition procedures that have restricted the number of opportunities for specialized firms to compete for small business contracts; government agencies failing to meet their minority-owned business contracting goals must be held accountable; and, the number of minority subcontracting requirement waivers granted to prime contractors must be minimized. While contract bundling may indeed make the procurement process quicker and less complex, it is in fact decreasing the amount of revenue opportunities to small businesses and narrowly defining the ability for small businesses – Hispanic-specialized firms - to compete effectively.

AHAA member agencies represent 98 percent of the Hispanic advertising agencies in the country and more than $5 billion in advertising and marketing spending. Working with Members of Congress and partnering with the national business and trade community, AHAA seeks to support the minority business community and in particular Hispanic-specialized firms to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive and the industry thriving.

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