What is the Advocacy Center?
The Advocacy Center is a unit within the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It coordinates U.S. Government resources to level the playing field for American businesses that compete against foreign firms for public contracts (both civilian and defense). The Center has helped hundreds of U.S. companies win overseas government contracts. Advocacy is a government-to-government activity. It counters foreign government political pressure to promote fairness in the tender process, for bids on large projects. The Advocacy Center works very closely with the U.S. Commercial Service and its network of domestic Export Assistance Centers and offices overseas.
Advocacy by US Government officials with overseas governments may take the following forms:
- Official correspondence
- Focused meeting/in-person advocacy
- Talking point in bilateral meeting/dialogue
- Press release or meeting with foreign press
What are some Advocacy Dos and Don’ts?
- Seek guidance from the Advocacy Center before engaging in commercial advocacy
- Contact the Advocacy Center early enough to coordinate strategy, especially for defense related tenders
- Review meeting and trip schedules – particularly for senior level visits – to see if they present opportunities for commercial advocacy
- Report advocacy efforts, developments, results to the Advocacy Center promptly
- Advocate prior to completing an Advocacy Questionnaire
- Advocate without an up-to-date guidance from the Advocacy Center
- Publicly discuss commercial advocacy efforts or wins except from approved guidance
The Advocacy Process
To apply for commercial advocacy, the first step is to submit an Advocacy Questionnaire with an “Anti-Bribery Agreement” attached. Both the Advocacy Questionnaire and the Anti-Bribery Agreement can be obtained through the U.S. Commercial Service. After these documents are received, the Advocacy Center reviews the the application to determine whether the commercial advocacy is in the U.S. national interest. If it is, the Advocacy Center will assign the case to the Task Force, which coordinates efforts across the government and coordinates engagement with foreign governments.