Spin? What spin? $1.62 billion spent by U.S. gov’t on media/pr contracts.

Silja J.A. Talvi

Have I mentioned how much I love the GAO lately? No? Well, I love the Government Accountability Office because they get real work done with my tax dollars, and because I get excited nearly everytime a new report comes out. I'm a geek like that, and I admit it. I just want to help them jazz up their report titles. (I really would love that job, but only if it were part-time.) Last week's release of "Media Contracts: Activities and Financial Obligations for Seven Federal Departments," revealed that seven federal departments (Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, VA, Treasury, Interior and HHS) accounted for nearly all spending on public relations and advertising activities. The review spanned from FY 2003 through 2nd Quarter FY 2005. Of the 343 media contracts and $1.62 billion spent, 40% went to advertising agencies, 38% to "media organizations," 16% to PR firms, and 2% to "individual members of the media." "As we have reported, there is a lack of accurate government-wide information on these contracts," the GAO report emphasized.

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Silja J.A. Talvi, a senior editor at In These Times, is an investigative journalist and essayist with credits in many dozens of newspapers and magazines nationwide, including The Nation, Salon, Santa Fe Reporter, Utne, and the Christian Science Monitor.
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