NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Government Spending Tax Dollars on Social Media

July 9, 2014

As social media has risen in popularity, so has federal spending on social media, reports Kelly Cohen for the Washington Examiner.

It is difficult to account for exactly how much federal spending goes towards social media, but various reports have revealed pieces of government spending on social media efforts:

  • In 2010, the federal government spent at least $945 million on advertising, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. That figure includes social media.
  • In 2013, the U.S. State Department spent $630,000 purchasing Facebook "likes."
  • The National Science Foundation gave a $480,000 grant last year to fund TwitterHealth, an application developed by University of Rochester researchers to track flu outbreaks via Twitter.
  • The National Institutes of Health gave the University of California, Irvine a $139,000 grant to study whether interacting on Twitter helps smokers quit.
  • The General Services Administration paid a consulting group $27,000 to "create new media" and maintain their website, which included posting to Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
  • The Department of Justice gave $540,000 in December 2013 to an outside company to "enhance its company profile" by working on the DOJ's LinkedIn page.
  • The Department of Transportation spent $42,000 in 2012 on a contractor to "design, develop, implement, evaluate and enhance" the Federal Railroad Administration's social media pages.

And while just 12 percent of the Ugandan population uses the internet occasionally, or owns a smartphone, the federal government is currently advertising a $111,000 per year job to do outreach and social media work in the African country.

Source: Kelly Cohen, "The reason the U.S. government is investing huge money in social media," Washington Examiner, June 25, 2014. 


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues