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Print 41 comment(s) - last by ppardee.. on Jul 9 at 4:02 PM


  (Source: Getty Images)
Meanwhile federal agency shuts down "America.gov" as keeping it up was "too expensive"

Kazoos, Nerf footballsinternet pornography, wine, and romance novels: we were a bit disappointed when the government blew our tax dollars on buying those things for itself.  But the revelation that the U.S. Department of State (DoS) spent $630,000 USD in taxpayer dollars advertising to get "likes" on Facebook.com, Inc.'s (FB) titular social network has some decrying that government waste has gone a bridge too far.

I. Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work

The program was run by the Department's Bureau of International Information Programs from 2011 to March 2013, during the leadership of Secretaries of State Hilary Clinton, and her successor John Kerry.  It was a "success", so to speak.  The State Department's page started with only 100,000 likes at the start of the campaign, and its foreign page only had tens of thousands of likes.  By the end the U.S. page had 2 million likes and the foreign page had swelled to 450,000 likes.

But that didn't stop some State Department employees from blowing the whistle on their supervisors.

The agency's inspector general in an audit reports, "Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as 'buying fans' who may have once clicked on an ad or 'liked' a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further."

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton's State Dept. reign is yet again under fire, this time for gov't waste.
[Image Source: Reuters]

The IG also complains that the program failed to decide whom to target its message too, writing, "The absence of a Department wide PD [public diplomacy] strategy tying resources to priorities directly affects IIP's work. Fundamental questions remain unresolved. What is the proper balance between engaging young people and marginalized groups versus elites and opinion leaders?"

II. Program Was Basically Worthless

For a time the likes might have been worth something, as posts from pages you "liked" would show up in your news feed.  But thanks to a September 2012 change, Facebook banished such posts from the news feed by default, instead requiring companies to pay reoccurring fees to have their messages show up.

The IG complains that the State Department's social media presence is a mess, with over 150 pages for different bureaus, many of which overlap.

Here's the full report:

State Department Facebook Likes IG Report



The IG also gripes that only 2 percent of "fans" of the page actually were engaged with it in various ways, such as liking posts, sharing content, or commenting.  The IG also took issue with the age of the fans.  The State Department had hoped to target "older influence leaders", but the fans who liked its page were largely younger folks.

III. State Department Shuts Down America.gov

So how did the State Department get all that money to buy Facebook likes and engage in other manner of wasteful spending?  Apparently it saved some resources by shutting down the website America.gov.

When you visit the site, you now get the message:

America.gov

It looks like the public has a clearer vision of where the State Department's spending priorities lie.

Sources: State Department IG via Scribd, ZDNET



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RE: WTF
By Motoman on 7/3/2013 3:54:30 PM , Rating: 5
Having done some work as a 3rd party for various government agencies in the past, I can firmly say that it's an absolute miracle that *anything* ever gets done. None of them are any better than the others - they all suck.


RE: WTF
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 7/3/2013 5:13:50 PM , Rating: 4
My own first hand experiences mirror that as well. About 10% of the entire government makes the entire thing function, the other 90% is completely useless and typically an obstruction to getting things done.


RE: WTF
By Dorkyman on 7/3/2013 9:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
And yet when some folks (mostly Repubs) try to shrink government, everyone yells and claims that it would be the End of Civilization.

Time for a real revolution me thinks.


RE: WTF
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 7/4/2013 1:05:08 AM , Rating: 2
The only thing it would be the end of is steady paychecks for the unqualified and obsolete. Most of the useless individuals within the government are only employable flipping burgers or stocking shelves, they lack the skills necessary to actually perform other functions.

When you have a team of 10 individuals, only 1 or 2 of which are qualified to do the job, the rest simply gossip and look busy, yet will spend two months each year detailing how they've made such massively valuable contributions to the successes of whatever department/agency. The managers being largely no better simply rubber stamp this and move along.

We've been riding high on the wave of success from the 40's until now. Given time your going to see more ruthless and focused competitors overtake and replace us. China is (barring a breakdown in leadership) well on their way to doing just that. Our military power pales in comparison to what it once was and we have lost the ability to win wars decisively. We are unfortunately only a shadow of what we once were. The idealism, mindset, and desire to succeed have been lost since our peak. We're now on a slow but steady decline. It'll be another decade or two before we see a turnaround or an acceleration of that decline. It's sure exciting waiting to see which way we go.


RE: WTF
By JediJeb on 7/5/2013 5:50:40 PM , Rating: 1
If you study ancient Greece or Rome you will see their governments did the same things we are doing now just before their collapse. Spend more money and effort on making the populace happy and softening every social rule to appease the fringe elements while fostering an attitude of dependence instead of self reliance, and you end up with a society that will crumble at the first real time of calamity. No matter how much power the central government has amassed at that point, it will not be able to sustain the weak society.


RE: WTF
By roykahn on 7/3/2013 10:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Traitor! You have disclosed classified information to the enemy and now must face US-style justice! Damn you high-tech terrorists.


RE: WTF
By Motoman on 7/5/2013 12:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that our government is irrevocably retarded isn't exactly a state secret.


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