Social Media

The State Department Spent $630,000 of Your Money Trying to Get "Likes" on Facebook


Between 2011 and 2013 the State Department spent $630,000 trying to get more Facebook users to "like" the Bureau of International Information Programs' Facebook page, according to an Inspector General's report. Foreign Policy's Jon Hudson reports

The IG report stings—especially because the Bureau of International Information and Programs is supposed to be Foggy Bottom's epicenter of online savvy. The bureau includes groovy-sounding divisions such as the Office of Innovative Engagement, which evangelizes on the "importance of using online engagement to drive offline, person-to-person activities and events." The bureau's stated mission is to be Foggy Bottom's "foreign-facing public diplomacy communications bureau" and supports its "growing social media community that numbers over 22 million followers."

Easier said than done. According to the report, first flagged by the Diplopundit, overlap and coordination issues trouble the various bureau's 150 social media accounts. The report also mentions a "pervasive perception of cronyism" exacerbating its already "serious morale problem."

Some of the issues are rather tedious, like whether embassy staffers should go to the Office of Web Engagement or the Office of Innovative Engagement for advice on social media. A section of the report is devoted to telling employees, hey, the "Office of Innovative Engagement is the proper place for this function."

Then there's the issue of "overlapping" Farsi outreach efforts. Apparently, both IIP and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affiars have Persian-language Facebook and Twitter accounts. "It is not efficient for the Department to have competing Persian-language Facebook and Twitter sites," reads the report. It suggests NEA take the lead given its closeness to actual "policymakers."

Other recommendations include boilerplate McKinsey-esque recommendations like consolidating weekly staff meetings and formalizing a process for "sharing research results." Total IIP funding since fiscal year 2011 is more than $71 million with almost $55 million spent on contracting. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. Perhaps we'll post one to their Facebook page.

Compared to what various agencies currently spend on junkets and conferences, $630,000 is small potatoes. Nevertheless, bad things should happen to whoever signed off on the expenditure. 

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  1. Now that’s some foreign policy. What was this, that brilliant former SoS’ idea? Or her brilliant successor’s?

  2. +Like

  3. Nothing left to cut.

    1. damned right there isn’t!

    2. We’re one dime in the budget away from becoming Somalia.

  4. Compared to what various agencies currently spend on junkets and conferences, $630,000 is small potatoes.

    I know this is the standard catechism when discussing any federal budget outrages short of a trillion dollars, but I would like to point out that I could live quite comfortably for 15 years on that money, even assuming I didn’t invest any of it.

    1. Moreover, small potatoes should be the easiest to cut.

    2. Also, it’s small potatoes if taken in isolation. But when you consider it as one of hundreds if not thousands of similarly wasteful budget items across the government as a whole, it adds up.

      And the people who’ll say that this doesn’t really amount to much in the way of waste are the same people who’ll tell you with a straight face that no significant cuts need to be made because eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse” will result in adequate savings.

    3. Yep, live comfortably for 15 years, and I’d even put in a few hours every day trying to get people to Like the State Department.

  5. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

    Ah, but did you ask ’em in *Farsi*?

    1. “Farce-y” is a good description of the whole mess.

  6. “Office of Innovative Engagement”

    Are you kidding me? Is it located near the Bureau of Traditional Isolation?

    I mean seriously…is there no one there who could have said, “you know guys, I am really not sure about this name…”?

    1. I’m sure Martin Lukes liked the name.

  7. Social media apparently got this administration elected. I can see them thinking it’s the key to a compliant populace.

  8. Meanwhile, your tax dollars are hard at work producing quality PBS projects like Are Bronies Changing the Definition of Masculinity?

    cut to the bone, I tell you, to the bone

    1. Why would a bunch of girls have any effect on the definition of masculinity?

    2. Hey, don’t you be talking bad about bronies, my 10 year old son is one.

      Of course my wife and I are already placing bets on how old he will be before he comes out of the closet

  9. I wonder if they paint “Like the U.S. Department of State” on the side of our drones?

    1. That’s brilliant, ProL.

      1. Perhaps I could be the next SoS? I mean, I’m as qualified in foreign policy as the last couple of secretaries. Though I prefer the title, Administrative Professional of State.

  10. Related:
    Now that Obozocare’s been ‘delayed’, what happens to the PR campaign to put lipstick on that pig?
    How about the Obozo-jurgen to sell it to their mommies and daddies?
    Do both budgets need an increase for the change orders?
    Oh, and even better, did they take in the grill at the Pelosi household?
    “Next week when we celebrate Independence Day we’ll also be observing health independence.”
    Well, she just missed by a year or so….…..ets-celebr

  11. How many likes are they looking for? Give me that money and I’ll get you 500,000 likes.

    $1 per like (maybe add a couple of requirements that it remains there for a year or something). The rest goes to my administrative fee.

  12. Meanwhile, sequester cuts are deliberately made to be as public & painful as possible.

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