GAO Mission and Operations:

Public Affairs and Congressional Affairs Activities of Federal Agencies

GGD-86-24: Published: Feb 14, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined: (1) federal executive agencies' public relations budgets and the number of employees involved in these activities; and (2) the extent to which key agency public relations officials meet with each other or with White House staff or Executive Office of the President (EOP) staff to coordinate public information efforts.

Public affairs involves efforts to develop and disseminate information to the public to explain the activities of and the issues facing an organization. GAO sent questionnaires to the 13 cabinet departments and 18 independent agencies and found that the agencies expected to obligate about $337 million for public affairs activities during fiscal year 1985, with almost 5,600 full-time equivalent employees assigned to public affairs activities. In addition, about $100 million was expected to be obligated for congressional affairs activities, with almost 2,000 full-time equivalent assigned employees. These figures reflect an increase in obligations for public and congressional affairs activities but a decrease in personnel assigned to the activities. The responses indicated that, while some meetings between agencies and with White House staff and EOP staff do occur, there are no regularly scheduled meetings to coordinate public information efforts.

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