The Bush administration spent more than $88 million on government-funded public relations contracts in 2004, a 128 percent increase from 2000 levels, according to a report by the minority staff of the House Government Reform Committee.
"This rapid rise in public relations spending at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the administration," the report said.
The report, requested by Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and others, found that about 40 percent of these contracts were awarded without open competition, up from 20 percent in 2000.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent more than $94 million on public relations contracts over the past four years, the most of any federal agency.
Waxman and others this month commissioned the Government Accountability Office to further investigate public relations contracts.
A group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has filed a similar request with GAO. Lautenberg was joined by Minority Whip Durbin and Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Carl Levin of Michigan and Mark Dayton of Minnesota.