COI spend on agency PR contracts rockets

The Government has more than doubled its spend on PR and sponsorship agencies in the past five years, ­according to the latest ­annual report from the ­Central ­Office of Information (COI) - Whitehall's agency procurement body

The COI saw almost £24m of PR and sponsorship ­business go through its books in 2005/6 - a sharp rise from just £9m in 2001/2.

COI deputy director of PR Janice Collins told PRWeek that the rise in spend was ‘across the board', with ‘no single government department or agency significantly upping its spend'.

Whitehall is investing more significantly in PR to better communicate its messages to ‘diverse' groups, Collins explained. The increased investment in PR is also due to recommendations made in the Phillis report into government comms.

The COI's PR and sponsorship spend has risen steadily in the past five years, with figures for 2005/6 around £4m more than for 2004/5.

The COI's overall turnover dipped slightly in 2005/6 due to restrictions around the time of the general election last year.

The COI does not oversee all government PR, as many departments - such as the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills - run their own agency rosters.

The COI refused to provide a breakdown of individual departmental spending on PR agencies.

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