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  (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 Captain Orgazmo on 7/3/2013 7:02:51 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It's just sad when you see how poorly run so many agencies/departments are.


Let me fix that:

It's just infuriating when you see how many agencies/departments there are.

-Considering the role of the federal government as per the Constitution is to provide National Defense, and Law and Order, and NOT all this other crap: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal...


RE: WTF
By Stuka on 7/3/2013 9:13:36 PM , Rating: 2
True.

The ugly part is that you have to assume for every one frivolous program you know about, there are at least 10 you don't.

The Constitution is so last year. What do you have that's new? We need fresh ideas.


RE: WTF
By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/2013 9:21:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there's no such thing as "efficient" Government. Our Founders knew this, knew the only solution was to keep Government as small and unobtrusive as possible.

Sadly we've failed entirely at maintaining the small limited in scope Government concept.


RE: WTF
By nick2000 on 7/3/2013 11:22:37 PM , Rating: 3
Our founding fathers were also not friends of big corporations, yet here we are. Interestingly, big corporations are not better than government at much so maybe the issue comes from the sheer size of bureaucracy more so than from public or private.
This brings us to the question of what size a proper government should be and what it should do? The founding fathers were only dealing with a very small country with barely any population (and much less voters). International relations were somewhat different considering how difficult and slow it was to travel.


RE: WTF
By Reclaimer77 on 7/4/2013 1:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This brings us to the question of what size a proper government should be and what it should do?


Well obviously it wasn't possible, and still isn't, to arbitrarily dictate "the size of the Government shall remain X". But ideally it would be just large enough to function as directed, with the rest of the job being handled by the States. Wealth redistribution on the national level is half our debt problem, and it's vastly Unconstitutional.

The Founders very clearly laid out the enumerated powers of the Government and Congress. Unfortunately Congress systematically abuses the Constitution's "welfare clause" to control our lives in ways that would have been an abomination to the Framers. Congress's companion tool to circumvent both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, the "commerce clause."

quote:
Interestingly, big corporations are not better than government at much


Can you quantify this? I would suggest that corporations are, like it or not, responsible for the high standard of living we all enjoy. Not the federal Government.

Also just on the surface, a Corporation is responsible for it's actions due to the profit motive. It can't print it's own money or tax every citizen. It has responsibilities and people it's answerable to. It cannot function indefinitely while racking up debt like our Government apparently can.

So obviously the private sector is far far more efficient than the Government. That's an axiom


RE: WTF
By testerguy on 7/4/2013 7:00:46 AM , Rating: 3
An unusually intelligent comment from you. +1


RE: WTF
By retrospooty on 7/4/2013 2:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that even when you agree with a post that makes sense, you still come off like a complete and total asshat?


RE: WTF
By inperfectdarkness on 7/4/2013 6:43:49 AM , Rating: 3
I've been screaming that for years. Yet the 1st thing that people want to put on the chopping block--each time the budget comes under review--is national defense.

Now I'm not saying that there's no fraud, waste and abuse within the DOD, nor that it shouldn't come under review. I just dislike how it's always thrown out there as the first place to axe--when it is explicitly one of the constitutional justifications for a national government.

I challenge any American liberal to cite where the US constitution charges the US federal government with the following responsibilities:

1. subsidizing mortgages
2. bailing out improperly run businesses
3. obamacare
4. no child left behind
5. cash for clunkers

I'll stop at 5, but I think I've made my point.


RE: WTF
By espaghetti on 7/4/2013 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
The legislative branch amends to it.
The larger problem is that we keep sending "representatives" and that would rather pad their bank accounts than represent it's people.
Not to mention every other elected official.


RE: WTF
By JediJeb on 7/5/2013 5:58:03 PM , Rating: 1
If we could do away with the Department of Education and let our teachers actually teach our children about the Constitution and how our government is run by the people and is not some ethereal all knowing entity, then maybe we would have a citizenship who could elect representatives who would actually represent them.


RE: WTF
By PerrinAybara162 on 7/6/2013 2:06:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
then maybe we would have a citizenship who could elect representatives who would actually represent them.


The problem is not so much that we are not informed, its that we do not actually have a choice. Take for example the last election. We had a choice of either Obama, who had proven that he had very little interest in getting things done, and Romney who made no effort to hide that he had no interest in the needs and wants of the average American citizen. We are not electing our choice of officials, we are told who to vote for based on party lines and who our party of choice decides on.

Teaching the populace will not fix that issue, it will just make us cognizant of it. And that is the single largest problem that this country is facing, and one that neither party is making the faintest effort to address.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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