These days, such investigations are facilitated by the helpful Freedom of Information Act, which makes most public sector information, er, public. Requests under the act have to be returned within 20 working days - MoD and Department for Work and Pensions, hang your heads in shame - and have so far produced interesting results.
One set of results, from Department for Communities and Local Government, was sent promptly by the helpful PR team and included detail on every PR contract the department has handed out over the past five years. Headlines include £2.46m spent with Grayling on the Sustainable Communities Summit 2005 and £375,000 spent with Connect Public Affairs in 2006-07 on the Neighbourhood Renewal programme.
But, most remarkable, is that in 2003-04 Citigate Public Affairs received £500 for an unknown project.
What did they do? Procure a nice suit for the head of comms?