Atlas Network:Federal Government Spends Millions on Public Relations Campaigns Money29

March 3, 2016
The idealized view of government as dedicated public servants, working steadily and carefully to advance the public good, has never been true. Politicians and bureaucrats are just as self-interested as anybody else, and public choice economics provides the analytical tools to understand how public-sector selfishness works in practice. Atlas Network partner Open the Books, a project of nonprofit organization American Transparency, has documented that U.S. federal government spending on public relations — often strictly for its own benefit — makes it effectively the second-largest PR firm in the world.
"Welcome to the second largest PR firm in the world, the United States government," said Open the Books founder Adam Andrzejewski in a WSB-TV report about the organization’s study, which documents $4.3 billion in federal spending on public relations during the previous eight years. "We have taxpayer dollars being spent to convince taxpayers to spend more taxpayer dollars on the growth of government."
Other summary findings in the Open the Books study include:
  • 3,092 federal ‘Public Affairs Officers’ are employed by over 200 federal agencies in FY2014.
  • 1,858 ‘Public Affairs Officers’ made at least $100,000 in base salary compensation in FY2014.
  • Salaries totaling $2.337 billion and ‘performance bonuses’ totaling $10.929 million flowed to public affairs officers (FY2007-FY2014).
  • Since 2007, PR positions increased in the federal government by 15 percent — an addition of 402 positions — from 2,688 to 3,092.
"After $4.5 billion in federal public relations spending over the past eight years, have we reached a point where the people’s consent is being manufactured by our government?" Andrzejewski asks in the study’s introduction. "In the transparency age, we believe individual taxpayers and news outlets decide, not federal agencies, what is newsworthy. We believe funding decisions should be made by ‘We the People’ and their elected representatives without manipulation by public affairs officers who want to protect their own paychecks."
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