Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bush Administration Spent $1.62 Billion on PR

Bush Administration Spent $1.62 Billion on PR

The nutshell: the Government Accountability Office for the first time did a system-wide study of the federal government's publicity contracts with media professionals (agencies, individuals, etc.) for the past two and a half years, at the request of Congressional Democrats, who released the highlights (pdf file) today. CBS carefully notes, "As no GAO report of this nature has been done in the past, it is impossible to compare and contrast the Bush administration's media contract spending with that of other administrations." But the trade publication Adweek is much less timid.

Trends in spending on PR and ad contracts were not documented, but a prior study by the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee found that spending on public relations contracts rose rapidly under the Bush administration. That report found that spending on contracts with public relations firms had increased to $88 million in 2004 from $39 million in 2000, an increase of 128 percent.

Another trade journal, Broadcasting & Cable, points out the "key finding" that "$50 million (76 contracts) was allocated without competitive bids," and notes "14 contracts for video news releases worth a total $1.4 million." What did we get for our money?

Adweek again:

The PR and ad contracts included providing "expert advice and support in the development of several marriage-related research initiatives," an educational campaign regarding the "Medicare Modernization Act, and its coverage and benefits," and a contract regarding "message development that presents the Army's strategic perspective in the global war on terrorism," the study said. A Food and Drug Administration contract had the objective of warning the public about the "consequences and potential dangers of buying prescription drugs from non-U.S. sources."

And check Raw Story for the most commentary from the Dems.