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Propaganda at your expense: U.S. govt. is second largest P.R. firm in the world


(NaturalNews) It's no secret that many people feel that the U.S. Government is synonymous with all things shady, filled with half-truths, loopholes and lingo that sounds fancy, but is really a self-serving set of words designed to offer minimal benefits to the rest of society.

Supporting these opinions is a finding from an Open the Books report which details what people think about the U.S. government – their public relations activities in particular. In a nutshell, Open the Books, which is described as a "nonpartisan, non-profit organization focused on providing transparency in government," found that the U.S. government spends a shocking amount of money on its public relations efforts. How much, you ask? Enough to report that the "U.S. Government ranked 2nd largest Public Relations Firm in the World" (1, 2)

The report suggests that the U.S. government spent a total amount of about $4.5 billion over the past eight years, which is broken down as follows: 1) some $2.347 billion in salary and bonus payments to federal employees and 2) $2.02 billion spent on outside contractors.(1)

Breakdown of US government PR spending, according to report

The report, titled, THE DEPARTMENT OF SELF-PROMOTION: HOW FEDERAL AGENCY PR SPENDING ADVANCES THEIR INTERESTS RATHER THAN THE PUBLIC INTEREST delves into the fiscal years 2007 through 2014. Here are some of the conclusions in their 42-page report:

  • $4.5 million spent by federal agencies to 'monitor media, broadcast, video, and website' and 'news clipping services' from FY2007 through FY2014.(2)
  • $36.5 million spent by State Department on polling foreigners' opinions, including our allies of England, Poland, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.(2)
  • $88.26 per hour 'Interns' at Ketchum advertising agency billed to federal agencies – or $183,581 per year. Ketchum also bills their 'video content producer' for $273.67/hour, or $569,234/year.(2)
  • $1.7 million spent by Veterans Administration to Gallup Organization for 'employee engagement' surveys and other employee satisfaction measurements during, before, and after the largest scandal in VA history: millions of dollars in bonuses paid-out to employees who helped 'cook-the-books' showing no-wait times for vets waiting for a doctor appointment.(2)
  • $527,000 spent by IRS on studies regarding 'tipping income behavior,' and 'tipping income studies' (FY2014)(2)
  • $1 million spent on 'speech coaching' and 'speech writing and editing' for the administrators within the federal agencies (FY2007-FY2014) - including $74,000 for Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Deputy Secretary John Pocari(2)
  • $10.93 million on 8,005 'performance bonuses' awarded to PR employees from federal agencies - 200 bonuses exceeded $5,000 since FY2007. $35,940 - the highest 'performance bonus' for public relations work was paid to John T. Burklow at Department of Health and Human Services (FY2012)(2)

Self-promotion advances government interests 'rather than the public interest,' report says

The Open the Books report explains that their goal is to shed light on information that's otherwise buried and kept from the public awareness. As such, they state their belief that "Federal agencies ... not only resist transparency but often pretend to be transparent when, in reality, they are engaged in self-promotion. Too often, they use their charge to disclose information as a cover for public relations campaigns that are designed to advance their interests (i.e. their desire for more funding and higher salaries) rather than the public interest."(2)

To read the report in full, which also includes their list of "Top 50 Federal Agencies Procuring Outside PR Service Firms FY2007 - FY2014" and information about salaries and bonuses, click here.(2)

Other findings also demonstrate apparent dissatisfaction with US government

Adding to these findings is a recent Pew Research Center poll which found that 80 percent of Americans are distrustful of the American government, with very few of them describing government programs as being run effectively.(3)

Furthermore, over 50 percent said that compared to elected officials, regular Americans would fare better at improving national problems. Interestingly, the poll found that one in five people sing the praises of the government and have positive feelings regarding the government's handling of pertinent matters.(3)

Sources for this article include:

(1) BlacklistedNews.com

(2) OpenTheBooks.com[PDF]

(3) NaturalNews.com

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