- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
- Aaron Hernandez, ex-Patriot, on prison life: ‘I’m way less stressed in jail’
- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
‘Atmosphere of secrecy’ pervades State Dept. office, audit finds
In a separate development last week, scandalous headlines filled the news when an unrelated internal OIG memo became public. The memo outlined a variety cases in which high-ranking department officials under Mrs. Clinton had been accused of quashing internal investigations into accusations of sexual assault, drug dealing, solicitation of prostitutes and minors, and other improper activity by American diplomatic personnel overseas.
The memo, is believed to have been based on anonymous complaints from rank-and-file agents in the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security that arose during a 2012 OIG review of the bureau, prompted a harsh reaction at Foggy Bottom, where officials described the complaints as “unsubstantiated.”
A spokesman for the inspector general's office has called the memo a “preliminary” document that triggered investigations into suspected criminal activity and claims that earlier probes were blocked by State Department higher-ups. Outside law enforcement specialists have been called in to conduct the investigations.
The report asserts that the bureau “uses many contractors (43 percent of employees) but does not manage its contracts well” and that “this deficiency constitutes a potential vulnerability for the department.”
Buying Facebook fans
The campaigns succeeded in growing the number of fans to more than 2 million for each page, according to the report, which notes that advertising also helped increase interest in the foreign language Facebook pages tied to the department — with some of the pages garnering as many as 450,000 fans as of March 2013.
Implementation of the advertising campaign have drawn criticism, however, from within the Bureau of International Information Programs.
“Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as ‘buying fans’ who may have once clicked on an ad or ‘liked’ a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further,” the OIG report says. “Defenders of advertising point to the difficulty of finding a page on Facebook with a general search and the need to use ads to increase visibility.”
The report notes that the bureau’s leadership subsequently “shifted the focus away from increasing total fan numbers and toward engagement, as measured by ‘likes,’ shares, and comments,” but asserts that “engagement is a means, not an end.”
“The bureau could reduce spending and increase strategic impact by focusing its advertising not on raising overall fan numbers or general engagement statistics but on accomplishing specific PD goals,” the OIG report states.
The report also calls on the bureau to “adopt a social media strategy that clarifies the primary goals and public diplomacy priorities of its social media sites.”
The OIG also calls for a more intensive audit to examine all of the bureau’s “front office staff travel for the calendar years of 2011 and 2012,” and for a reorganization in how the bureau oversees contracts with private vendors.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
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