Marketing, sales, and distribution > Item 1 - Purpose and Function of Our Government - General > PART I > 2021 Government 10-K

Marketing, sales, and distribution

Published on Mon, May 17, 2021 9:00AM PDT | Updated Mon, May 17, 2021 9:13AM PDT

Our Government markets, sells, and distributes services either directly to the public or via contracts with private firms.


Our Government uses television, radio, print, the Internet, and social media to advertise and market government services. Many government agencies employ media spokespeople to tout their achievements, build public awareness, and promote their services and build websites to offer information. They may also hire advertising agencies for marketing campaigns. The military uses advertising campaigns to recruit soldiers.

Federal agencies spent $909 million on advertising in fiscal year 2015, according to an estimate by the Government Accountability Office. The top three advertisers were the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. These and other agencies spend for purposes such as advertising job openings, federal contracts and sales of surplus property.

Federal agencies also advertise to promote their services or influence public behavior. The Centers for Disease Control, for example, has carried out campaigns to encourage people to quit smoking and get tested for HIV. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is mandated by law to produce advertising campaigns to discourage the use of illegal drugs. State, local, and federal governments use the services of the Ad Council, a non-profit group backed by advertising agencies and media outlets, for free public-service advertising campaigns through a nationwide network of media outlets. These have included anti-drunk-driving campaigns by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and efforts by the US Forest Service to prevent forest fires.

The military uses advertising and marketing campaigns to recruit soldiers and has promoted public goodwill by staging patriotic events at professional sports games. The United States Army Recruiting Command employs about 10,900 recruiters working out of more than 1,400 recruiting stations across the US and overseas.

Many state and local agencies market their services through trade organizations such as the American Public Transportation Association, which lobbies the federal government for funding for local transit systems, carries on campaigns to generate public support for mass transit, and conducts research. Agencies also conduct their own marketing campaigns; the Los Angeles Metro, for example, has an in-house agency that uses billboard advertising to encourage residents to leave their cars at home and use public buses, rail or carpooling instead.


Many government services are sold directly to the public. State and local governments provide higher education via networks of state and county colleges, universities, and community colleges, and deliver health at state and county hospitals. Postal services are sold through the federal government’s network of over 31,000 retail outlets. Customers pay for transportation when they buy rides on local bus and subway networks and pay tolls on highways. Many states and counties have a monopoly on distribution and sales of some or all alcoholic beverages, often through chains of government-operated retailers.


Our Government sometimes use third-party distributors to carry out government objectives. Private universities and research institutions conduct government-funded research. Healthcare funded under government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid may be delivered by private health-care practitioners, hospitals, and clinics, in addition to public hospitals. Lottery tickets are sold through retailers such as convenience stores and gasoline stations.

Public and cooperative utilities supply services such as water, sewage treatment, electricity, and natural gas directly to commercial, residential, and industrial customers through dedicated distribution networks. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned utility that generates hydroelectric power, supplies electricity to most of Tennessee and parts of six other states. It sells power wholesale, about half to federal agencies and half to large industries and locally owned municipal and cooperative distribution systems.