The Obama administration hired hundreds of public relations employees to sell the administration’s policies, costing U.S. taxpayers $500 million a year, according to the government’s top watchdog.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that the administration added 667 PR staffers between 2008 and 2011 to bring the staffing total to 5,238; the number decreased since then, but 5,100 staffers remained in the administration in 2014, The Washington Times reported.
The GAO says these figures do not include the $100 million spent on private PR consultants to bolster the government’s PR efforts.
The government spent $800 million on contracts with outside advertising firms in 2015 to promote the administration’s policies, The Washington Times reported.
“With increasing pressures on limited federal resources, it is crucial to know how much is spent across the federal government on public relations activities and which federal agencies are spending the most,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who requested the report.
According to The Washington Times, the Pentagon gained the most PR staffers out of all the federal agencies, with 2,100 employees assigned to the agency.
The Interior Department, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security also saw big gains in PR staff.
Some departments, such as Social Security, the Transportation and Labor departments, and the National Science Foundation, faced the smallest PR staffing gains in a decade.