The administration today announced the results of a year-long review of Federal audiovisual programs. It released a report identifying areas of waste and inefficiency in the $500 million spent on these programs annually, and announced steps to make expenditures more effective. The study identified such problems as:
Proliferation and underutilization of television facilities.
In the past, the Government has maintained no comprehensive list of facilities, and there has been little facility sharing. Many studios have been used at less than half-capacity. One agency recently proposed spending more than $4 million on a one-time audiovisual training program, including the purchase of more than $2 million in playback equipment. Had this expenditure been approved, at the end of a brief training period the equipment would have been sold for a fraction of the purchase price.
Ineffective distribution of materials.
Agencies often produce motion pictures without a clear idea of the intended audience and without an effective distribution plan. Many Government films intended for general audiences end up being shown only to limited groups.
Some films merely promote agency images rather than provide support for programs. Film proposals often simply state that the film is made to make the agency look good. This sort of effort will be barred as a result of action taken following the review.
Since there is no comprehensive catalog of Government films, duplication is common. For example, two military departments recently completed nearly identical films, at costs of more than $70,000 each, on how to avoid being trapped by foreign agents. A third military department proposed yet another film which would use the same approach to convey the same message.
During the study, a number of projects were identified which appeared to be wasteful, duplicate existing material, or failed to identify a target audience. Already, projects totaling more than $4 million have been cancelled. Other recommendations, still under consideration, could result in additional savings of more than $8 million.
Based on the review, a number of agencies have already drafted new procedures to reduce waste and duplication in their audiovisual activities.
In cooperation with the Office of Management and Budget, a new Audiovisual Management Circular has been developed and put into effect. The circular included the following requirements:
• Underutilized production facilities will be consolidated, reduced in size, or closed down.
• Audiovisual material should be used to support specific agency programs, not for agency self-promotion.
• A master catalog will be prepared. To reduce duplication, agencies will be required to use the catalog to see if what they need already exists.
• Production will be justified on criteria such as need for the material, costs, intended audience, and planned distribution.
• Records of audiovisual products and expenditures on in-house production will be maintained in a single location and be a matter of public record.
The General Services Administration has been assigned the responsibility of providing guidance to agencies in implementing the circular and the recommendations made during the review.
The review of Government programs was conducted by Robert Lissit, under the direction of the Office of Telecommunications Policy and, subsequently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It was coordinated with members of the White House staff, with the participation of OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
For further information contact Robert Lissit (395-3122). For information about the OMB circular contact Les Fettig (395-3436).