The federal government likes good press — so much so that it has shelled out nearly $4 billion on public relations specialists since 2007.
reports that a review by Open the Books, a group that tracks government spending, found 3,092 public affairs professionals working for the government — an increase of 15 percent — 400 people — over the past seven years.
In its report, Open the Books likened the government's extensive use of public relations to making itself look good at the expense of taxpayers.
"We always applaud agencies who make information available. But . . . agencies are not charged with making that information interesting or newsworthy. Agencies certainly aren't charged with using taxpayer funds to engage in thinly-veiled propaganda campaigns that are primarily designed to protect their budgets and hype outcomes," the group said.
The money goes to firms that dream up public relations campaigns, and conduct polling, research and marketing.
Open the Books found the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was the largest spender on public relations contracts, forking over more than $412.7 million, followed by the Department of the Army with $255 million.
Other big spenders include FEMA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of the Navy and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, The Hill reports.
Among the leading agencies that rake in federal money for their public relations services are FleishmanHillard, Ogilvy Public Relations and Young & Rubicam.
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