From The Washington Times:

The federal government for years has been using Americans’ tax dollars to pay for its own PR through carefully coordinated marketing campaigns, to the tune of billions of dollars.

Over the past seven years, federal agencies have spent more than $4.3 billion on self-promotion and marketing, according to government contract data compiled from USASpending.gov in an oversight report by spending watchdog OpentheBooks.com.

Federal agencies spent $2.35 billion in salary and bonus payments to federal employees with the job title of “public affairs officer” and more than $2 billion on outside contractors for additional public relations projects, according to the report.

In fact, the U.S. government employs so many public affairs officers that it ranks as the second-largest public relations firm in the world in terms of the number of employees.

Although it is certainly important and necessary for federal agencies to engage in public relations in order to make information available to taxpayers and to understand the markets they serve, the report highlights cases in which the government’s marketing budget appears to border on propaganda and pandering.

For example:

The Internal Revenue Service has spent nearly $18 million on “customer satisfaction surveys” and analysis. The IRS has a 90 percent positive rating, and the report argues that most Americans wouldn’t be bold enough to tell the IRS any differently.

The Department of State has spent over $36 million on public opinion polling in foreign countries, including nations that are U.S. allies.

In fiscal years 2007 and 2008,…

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