Should the PR Contract be Renewed?

Susan Davis International (SDI) has a contract with the Defense Department to help guide the “American Supports You” program.   ASY is designed to be pro-troops.  According to the web site, “America Supports You, one of many initiatives managed by the Office of Community Relation, is intended to communicate citizen support to the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and their families. All America Supports You related content will continue to be featured under the “Citizen Support for Our Troops” section of www.OurMilitary.mil.” [See the web site http://www.ourmilitary.mil/index.aspx%5D.

In 2008, the government found SDI has acted inappropriately—mismanagement and potential financial wrongdoing.  To be more specific, “The Defense Department Inspector General reports that the America Supports You program was being managed in a “questionable and irregular manner,” the department’s top public affairs official said today. “ 

[See the longer story at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=52313]. 

Part of this included receiving over $8 million dollars from the Stars & Stripes budget to conduct public relations for ASY.  With all these problems, in July of 2009 the contract with SDI was renewed and they received another $1 million in tax payer money.  [For a critical look at the case see http://www.prwatch.org/node/8076].

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why are some constituents upset by the renewal—why might the renewal be viewed as bad public relations?
  2. How could a solid rationale be built for continuing the contract?
  3. What ethical concerns are raised by the renewal?
  4. See if you can find any coverage of the story in the traditional media.  How does the amount of media coverage of the inappropriate actions help or hurt public relations aspect of the contract renewal?
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