GAO official issues refresher on rules concerning VNRs

WASHINGTON: The Government Accountability Office's (GAO) comptroller general has issued a reminder to federal department heads about the proper protocol regarding VNRs.

WASHINGTON: The Government Accountability Office's (GAO) comptroller general has issued a reminder to federal department heads about the proper protocol regarding VNRs.

The memo cited two cases within the past year where such releases were not clearly identified as government productions.

"We noticed ... that these are not isolated practices, that it's really across the government," said Susan Poling, associate general counsel of the GAO. "This is a reminder to them tat there are laws that they need to comply with in terms of publicity and propaganda prohibition."

Those cases were Ketchum and Home Front Communications' VNRs for Medicare and Fleishman-Hillard's VNRs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Both those cases were eventually ruled "covert propaganda" by the GAO.

"In neither case did the agency include any statement or other indication in its news stories that disclosed to the television viewing audience ... that the agency wrote and produced those news stories," the memo read.

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