Consider that even in an era of supposedly tight federal spending levels, and even with Congressional pressure growing to eliminate wasteful and redundant programs, business is good within the world of government’s Public Affairs.
Federal agencies have been hiring even more Public Affairs and media experts, even as they face hiring freezes in other departments. Within many Federal Agencies, expensive “buy-out” policies are being implemented to reduce the bloated bureaucracy. Yet, within the Public Affairs’ divisions of the federal government, the hiring goes on and on.
Ever wonder why government agencies are spending so much on advertising and public affairs?
Public Affairs officers have been elevated to senior positions within federal agencies. Agencies are spending billions of dollars on advertising, telling other agencies and “spinning” Americans on their “good news stories”, and what a great job they are doing with the taxpayer dollars.
Government trade magazines feature large, online and in-print advertisements from federal agencies, and, in return, those trade magazines and newspapers feature puff pieces on agency executives.
Federal agencies are also mandated to sell their goods and services to one another. Yet, many agencies spend millions of dollars, annually, in conferences, in commercial publications and in promotional materials and tschotkes to market one another.
Of course, these agencies also spend millions of dollars to market the “successes” of the agencies’ leaders, often paving the way for prestigious, revolving-door, jobs after leaving office, such as the recent Jake Siewert (counselor and former press secretary) transition from Obama Administration official to Goldman Sachs executive.
Never before has a president marshaled so many public relations pieces in an orchestrated propaganda campaign, seemingly designed solely to effect his reelection. The public funds which the Obama Administration is spending on public relations is a misuse of taxpayer money and congress ought to get tough with the Administration.
Of course, these expenditures are not easily identified since they show up in a variety of places under various line items in an agency’s budget. These expenditures tend to be buried in the PC&B (Payroll, Compensation and Benefits) budget lines, or are buried in other “contractor” costs and ODC (Other Direct Costs) lines in the agencies’ budgets.
A carefully worded request from congress, itemizing queries for costs for web site development, website “presence”, online “subscription” services and contractor paid “promotional” costs and conference fees would also reveal that the widespread PR efforts of the Obama Administration runs into the billions of dollars.
A recent news report analyzed the stupendous effort the Obama presidential campaign is investing in online marketing efforts utilizing personal data collected via internet sites and mobile devices. But, when combined with the phenomenal growth in the ‘spin” people and resources employed in federal agencies, it becomes clear that Obama is managing, below the surface of public attention, to mobilize enormous assets within the federal government to support his campaign re-election strategy.
It is also important to remember that Team Obama is not bound, as other businesses are, by the same “truth in advertising” laws, designed to protect consumers. Nor is Team Obama required to “substantiate its claims”. So, instead they spend lots of time in self-serving puffery, telling Americans how wonderful the Obama Administration is and what a great job they are doing.
How much better for all of us if Obama would spend time tackling the real and pressing problems of the day—unemployment, rising deficits, rising energy prices, reduced trade and reduced manufacturing growth.
The sad part of all of this is that, given the choice, the Obama Administration has shown they would rather spend their time (along with a healthy dose of taxpayer money) spinning the story rather than solving the problems that Obama was elected to solve.
Obama has told us he has studied Abraham Lincoln and is familiar with Lincoln’s wisdom that “you can fool some of the people, all of the time”. Pity that the president’s Lincoln scholarship ended prematurely and he did understand the rest of Lincoln’s wisdom, that “You can’t fool all the people all the time”.
Barack Obama clearly thinks he can.