Salaries of Federal PR Employees Featured in Senator’s Annual ‘Wastebook’

A new report from Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) details 50 examples of government programs that he feels are some of the most egregious examples of wasteful spending at the federal level. The salaries of a select group of federal employees made the list.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has released Wastebook: Porkemon Go, a report which details 50 examples of government programs that he feels are some of the most egregious examples of wasteful spending at the federal level.

Some of the examples from the report include testing the endurance of fish on a treadmill, studying the partying habits of fraternities and sororities, and studies of hamster cage fighting.

One of the biggest ticket items from the report in terms of total cost was agency spending on public relations ($1.4 billion). The report says that federal contracts for advertising and public relations average nearly $1 billion a year.

On top of that, an additional $430 million a year is spent paying the salaries of approximately 4,900 federal public relations employees. The report says that the median annual salary for government public relation staff is about $90,000.

Which agencies spent the most of public relations? The table below is from the Wastebook report:

Agency Average Annual Cost
Department of Defense $626.2 million
Department of Health and Human Services $116.7 million
Department of Commerce $37.7 million
Department of Homeland Security $37.6 million
Department of Transportation $36.0 million
Department of Veterans Affairs $23.6 million
Department of Agriculture $8.8 million
Department of Justice $5.9 million
Department of State $5.8 million
Department of Labor $5.6 million

Flake’s report notes that despite the large expenditures on advertising, only 32 percent of Americans surveyed expressed “a favorable impression of the federal government,” according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

According to Flake, “Federal agencies could improve their public relations at no cost whatsoever by simply conducting themselves efficiently and effectively rather than misspending taxpayer dollars on questionable and unnecessary projects and activities that will inevitably end up in Wastebook.”

The annual publication of the Wastebook was started by former Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). Flake has continued the annual tradition, and this latest edition is his second time to publish the report.

“Government boondoggles come in all shapes and sizes and pop up just about everywhere,” said Flake. “Hopefully this report will be a guide to catch egregious spending lurking in the federal budget.”

A copy of the report is embedded below.

Wastebook 2017: Porkemon Go

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.