Politics

Senate Budget Chair Calls For Investigation Into Questionable Government Public Relations Spending

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi is continuing his push to ensure government agencies aren’t frivolously spending money on public relations after another government official failed to respond to the lawmaker’s request for information on the issue in October.

In a letter written to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro earlier this month, the Wyoming Republican asked the watchdog agency for a breakdown of the executive branch’s spending on advertising, public relations and media relations. He also questioned which agencies spend the most on advertising and for what purpose.

“Chairman Enzi is issuing this GAO request four months after sending a similar request for information on federal public relations activities to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which remains unfulfilled,” Budget Committee Communications Director Joe Brenckle told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The call for an investigation follows a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report showing agencies spent around $892.5 million on contracts for advertising in fiscal year 2013. The number is projected to be even higher as resources spent on internal agency support was not included in the estimate.

Enzi said spending behaviors are largely unknown and more transparency and fiscal oversight is needed due to “increasing pressures on limited federal resources.”

“The federal government’s expenditures on advertising are difficult to ascertain. There are at least two reasons for this: (1) there is no government-wide definition of what constitutes advertising and (2) there is no central authority to which agencies are required to report advertising-related expenditures,” the CRS report said.

Under federal law, agencies are prohibited from using taxpayer dollars to fund propaganda.

Charles Young, the managing director of public affairs at the GAO, confirmed to TheDCNF that the request has been accepted and “work should get underway next month.”

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