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According to estimates by the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. government spent over $892 million for public relations advertising through private firms in 2014.
And that doesn’t include the spending that various federal departments and agencies do to advance their own reputations in the public through their own PR resources! Government spending watchdog Open the Books estimates that there are 3,092 federal PR employees on the payroll today.
We estimate that the full amount of annual spending that the U.S. government devotes to advancing its reputation and programs totals well over $1.1 billion, given that it would only take some 1,275 PR bureaucrats with an average base salary of $83,887 to reach the $1 billion mark.
And that doesn’t include the bonuses and other forms of compensation that the federal government’s PR flacks enjoy, such as riding Washington D.C.’s Metro light rail system for free.
You would think that with that kind of PR budget, the U.S. federal government would have a much, much better reputation than it does!
That poor reputuation isn’t much helped by the politicians and bureaucrats who have been not responded to questions being asked about how much money the U.S. government is spending on PR by their Congressional overseers. The Washington Examiner‘s Joseph Lawler reports on the situation:
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate how much federal agencies are spending on public relations, after having gotten no response to that question from the Obama administration.
The Senate Budget Committee chairman said Wednesday that, at his request, the GAO will investigate how much agencies are spending on PR, a subject that Enzi says remains a mystery to Congress.
Enzi asked White House Office of Management and Budget director Shaun Donovan for similar information four months ago, but didn’t receive an answer.
As a result, Enzi wrote a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro for a rundown on what agencies are spending on media relations, and what they are getting out of that spending. He said spending on PR is “largely unknown,” but is also “increasing pressures on limited federal resources.”
Can you imagine what the public perception of the U.S. government would be if it weren’t spending over $1.1 billion a year to shamelessly promote itself? And the politicians and bureaucrats who run it?