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Highlights

The federal government contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations, and individual members of the media to provide, among other things, messages about its programs and services. As we have reported, there is a lack of accurate governmentwide information on these contracts. Seven federal departments account for nearly all the obligated federal dollars for public relations and advertising activities in fiscal year 2003--Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs. GAO submitted a questionnaire to each of these seven departments to obtain information for fiscal year 2003 through the second quarter of fiscal year 2005 on (1) the number of contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations, and individual members of the media for which obligations have been incurred; (2) the total amount of contract obligations incurred on each contract by fiscal year; (3) the method by which the contract was awarded--competed, noncompeted, follow-on to competed action, or not available for competition; and (4) summaries of the purpose and scope of work to be performed under each contract.

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