U.S. Government Advocacy Policy

U.S. Government Advocacy Policy (Revised October 2013)

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The goal of U.S. Government (USG) commercial advocacy is to help level the playing field on behalf of U.S. businesses and workers competing for international contracts against foreign firms and to promote the growth of exports of U.S. goods and services around the world.

Background Information

When exporters of U.S. goods and services (or “U.S. exporters”) seek to compete in foreign government procurements, the USG can provide support through commercial advocacy. These Advocacy Guidelines set forth how the Advocacy Center determines whether it will approve commercial advocacy for a particular transaction.

On March 11, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13534, National Export Initiative (NEI), setting forth the Administration’s goal of doubling exports over the next five years. Among the items that the NEI addresses is “steps to ensure that the Federal Government’s commercial advocacy effectively promotes exports by U.S. companies.” The NEI Executive Order provides that this work is to be carried out by members of the Export Promotion Cabinet in coordination with the Advocacy Center.

On December 6, 2012, President Obama issued Executive Order 13630, Establishment of an Interagency Task Force on Commercial Advocacy. That Executive Order created an Interagency Task Force on Commercial Advocacy (Task Force), which is chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. The Executive Order defines “commercial advocacy” as Federal support for U.S. firms competing for foreign project or procurement opportunities, and defines “foreign project or procurement opportunities” as export opportunities, including defense export opportunities, for U.S. businesses that involve foreign government decision makers, including foreign government-owned corporations. Among other functions, the Task Force reviews and prioritizes advocacy cases for which the Advocacy Center has approved the provision of commercial advocacy and coordinates the activities of relevant agencies to enhance Federal support for such cases.

These guidelines explain how the Advocacy Center determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether to approve the provision of commercial advocacy.

Eligibility for USG Advocacy


1. The overall basis for determining the nature and extent of USG support for a viable bid or proposal in connection with an international transaction shall be the U.S. national interest. A U.S. national interest determination will first weigh and assess the foreseeable, material benefits to the U.S. economy that may potentially be derived from a transaction and assess the merit of a request for USG support of any bid or proposal made in connection with the transaction.

2. A bid or proposal in which the U.S. content of the goods or services to be provided exceeds 50 percent of the total value (including material, equipment and labor) shall be presumed to be in the U.S. national interest.

3. In cases where the U.S. content does not exceed 50 percent, the following factors, in addition to the 50 percent U.S. content threshold, may be considered in determining whether USG support of a bid or proposal is in the U.S. national interest:

  • the bid or proposal includes a significant dollar value of U.S. goods or services exports;
  • the foreign project or procurement opportunity provides a substantial probability of future exports of U.S. goods or services;
  • the foreign project or procurement opportunity provides a substantial benefit to the U.S. industrial base or technological capabilities in the industry or industries concerned;
  • the potential U.S. export content for the foreign project or procurement opportunity is limited by restrictions or conditions imposed by the terms of the project or procurement opportunity, or because sourcing particular goods or services from the United States is economically unfeasible; and
  • the foreign project or procurement opportunity provides export opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises that might not otherwise be available.

The USG may determine that a bid or proposal that meets one or more of the above factors in a clear and substantial way is in the U.S. national interest.

4. All bids or proposals that are determined to be in the U.S. national interest under paragraphs 2 or 3 above shall be supported by the USG in an equal and nondiscriminatory manner.

5. It shall be the responsibility of the firm or entity seeking USG support to advise the Advocacy Center in a timely manner of its interest. Firms should be prepared to substantiate to the satisfaction of the Advocacy Center the applicability of the above criteria, with documentation (when necessary and appropriate). Firms may be informed that their failure to provide such information in a timely manner may preclude USG support.

6. A firm seeking USG support must agree that it and its affiliates:

a. have not and will not engage in the bribery of foreign officials in connection with the matter for which advocacy assistance is being sought;

b. maintain and enforce a policy that prohibits the bribery of foreign officials.

The firm must further acknowledge that failure to comply with the terms of the agreement may result in the denial of advocacy assistance;

c. sign the Antibribery Agreement when submitting the questionnaire. Any questionnaire lacking the required signatures will result in denial of advocacy.