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GAO Report: US Spends $1B on Public Relations Annually

Image: GAO Report: US Spends $1B on Public Relations Annually

Pentagon. (AP)

By    |   Monday, 28 Nov 2016 01:10 PM

The federal government spends an average of $1 billion annually on public relations and advertising, with the Department of Defense (DOD) responsible for half of all public relations contracts, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

A Government Accountability Office report shows that the DOD employs more than 40 percent of all federal public relations workers and that the military spent, for example, $53 million on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015.

According to East Bay Times, a report last year from Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake criticized this practice as "paid patriotism," saying that "Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks."

The report further criticized the practice because the DOD did not even measure in any sort of scientific way if the large sums spent on trying to boost recruitment actually did so.

The newspaper acknowledged that the government's public relations services include legitimate functions, such as informing about regulations or letting the public know about health and safety threats.

But an editorial asked when does public information cross the line to propaganda, such as "the Health and Human Services Department launching an expensive pro-Obamacare advertising campaign, or the Pentagon trying to spin and influence media coverage of military actions."

Forbes pointed out that no one should be surprised that federal agencies, which receive large sums of money to spend as they chose, "hire public relations specialists or contract with outside firms for material that makes them look good and their agencies utterly essential to the public welfare" in order to justify their continued existence and need for larger budgets.

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The federal government spends an average of $1 billion annually on public relations and advertising, with the Department of Defense (DOD) responsible for half of all public relations contracts, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
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2016-10-28
Monday, 28 Nov 2016 01:10 PM
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