WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defense (DoD) pulled communications efforts for its America Supports You (ASY) program in-house after the DoD's Office of the Inspector General released an audit questioning the purpose of ASY and the use of a PR firm, according to Lt. Col. Todd Vician, DoD spokesperson.
ASY was launched in 2004 as a public awareness project to showcase the US' support for troops and their families through groups and businesses that provide services for them. At the request of the DoD's assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, an audit was conducted to ensure that the program and its funds were properly used.
The 13-month audit released December 12 deemed that the DoD ASY PR program was run in a “questionable and unregulated manner,” including branding of the program, building support among kids, and spending $191,024 on ASY dog tags.
The audit found that $8.8 million of the program's funding was spent on contracts with Susan Davis International (SDI), which has worked on the initiative since its inception.
Tom Davis, VP for DC-based SDI, said via e-mail that the firm was “caught in an internal dispute over how DoD programs should be managed” and that the firm had “clearly accomplished” the needs set forth in the original RFP. He said the firm's current contract runs until May 2009, though work on the account was halted in September.
The DoD has now “refocused” the program's objectives from raising public support of the program to communicating to troops and their families what Americans are doing to support them, Vician said.
The ASY Web site no longer highlights individual companies, nor does it display logos.
“There will be a lot less traditional PR action,” said Vician.