Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jul 2002
Source: Advertising Age (US)
Copyright: 2002 Crain Communications Inc.
Author: Ira Teinowitz
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)


Congressman Demands Documents; Other Scrutiny Expected

WASHINGTON -- The surprise award of the White House drug office advertising 
contract to WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide -- the same agency that 
paid out $1.8 million to settle allegations that it overbilled the 
government -- is starting to draw congressional attention.

On a day the full House Appropriations Committee approved legislation that 
would cut the government's overall spending on the anti-drug media campaign 
by $10 million to $170 million -- but require $150 million of that to be 
devoted to media buys -- the chairman of another House panel was writing 
the U.S. Navy asking for documents relating to the contract award.

Documents Sought

Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., chairman of a House Government Reform panel is 
writing the U.S. Navy, which handled the contracting process, today is 
asking for papers explaining the award of the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy account to Ogilvy, and aide for the 
congressman said.

The letter asks the Navy to provide the committee with copies of all five 
bid proposals, information utilized to evaluate the proposal, scores on 
each proposal, information submitted by the drug office on bidders past 
performance and any memos or other documents outlining the Navy's 
recommendations. wants "a thorough review of the process" but has not at 
this time made any decision to challenge the review.

A drug office spokesman last week told Advertising Age that Ogilvy, which 
settled for $1.8 million accusations that it overbilled the government on 
the account, had altered its billing practices to comply with government 
billing standards.

"It is important to keep in mind that Ogilvy did respond to the criticism 
and changed their practices, and did comply with all the recommendations in 
the [General Accounting Office] report," said Tom Riley, the office's 
public affairs director. "Since Ogilvy was not debarred, it would have been 
illegal for us to have excluded them from the competition. The Navy made 
the evaluation."

The contract is also expected to be discussed Thursday when a Senate panel 
meets to mark up an appropriations bill that funds the anti-drug ad 
campaign. The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Byron 
Dorgan, D-N.D., has been critical of the drug office for keeping Ogilvy.

Late Decision

The award to Ogilvy came late July 3 on the eve of a holiday weekend when 
congressional officials already were out of Washington. Ogilvy won a 
one-year contract that can be renewed annually for up to four more years. 
Ogilvy will do strategic research and media planning, with sibling 
Mindshare doing the complicated media buying that is required for the 
account. Media companies have to match each paid ad with a free ad.

Creative for the campaign comes from the Partnership for Drug Free America.

The award to Ogilvy also comes as the drug office faces a congressional 
battle over its budget and the ad contract because of a recent report 
suggesting the campaign has not been effective at targeting youth.
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