June 28, 2001
White House Mismanaged
Anti-Drug Advertising Contract, GAO Charges
Feds Fleeced for 3,100 Extra Hours, Investigators Find
DC: Federal officials and private contractors grossly mismanaged a
$384 million dollar anti-drug advertising contract, according to a report
released Monday by the General Accounting Office (GAO). Members of
Congress requested a detailed review of the contract, which was awarded as part
of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) "National Youth
Anti-Drug Media Campaign," after a previous GAO investigation revealed possible
improprieties on the part of both the ONDCP and New York advertising firm Ogilvy
The GAO reported Monday that timesheets for 28 Ogilvy & Mather employees had been altered to reflect more than 3,100 hours worth of work that may or may not have taken place. These hours were billed to the federal government. The GAO also revealed that: Ogilvy & Mather improperly billed full-time benefits to temporary employees; the firm did not have an appropriate accounting system for the ONDCP contract; the government did not seek to resolve obvious billing problems when they arose; and that federal officials failed to properly manage aspects of the actual contract award.
The GAO referred its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"With so much of the $20 billion dollar federal drug war budget being allotted to third party contractors - many of whom have little or no government oversight - it's not surprising to discover that this type of fraud and mismanagement is taking place," said NORML Foundation Legal Director Donna Shea.
The GAO recommended a further review to determine how much money the federal government overpaid.
The White House's much beleaguered "Anti-Drug Media Campaign" originally fell under Congressional fire last year when it was discovered that federal officials clandestinely sponsored network programming with anti-drug themes and influenced television scripts. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled last December - in response to a complaint filed by The NORML Foundation - that the practice violated Section 317 of the Federal Communications Act, which requires networks to identify the sponsors of any material for which they received financial compensation.
For more information, please contact Donna Shea, NORML Foundation Legal Director, at (202) 483-8751.
Oregon Couple Wage Ad Campaign: "We're Your Good Neighbors. We Smoke Pot"
An Oregon couple has begun an advertising campaign calling on mainstream
Americans to come out of the closet regarding their use of marijuana.
"The United States government acknowledges that over 70 million American adults have smoked pot. That's one in three of your neighborhood doctors, grocers, college professors, police officers, computer programmers, postal carriers, engineers, business executives, and spiritual leaders," their ad reads. "These pot smokers are your elected officials. They are your dearest friends. They are your family members."
The advertisement's headline pronounces: "We're Jeff and Tracy. We're your good neighbors. We smoke pot." It ran Wednesday in Oregon's Willamette Week. The couple, Jeff Jarvis and Tracy Johnson, paid $2,555 to run the full-page advertisement.
They placed the ad to counter allegations that pot smokers are a threat to society. "I'm looking around saying, 'This is crazy.'" said Jeff Jarvis. "It's 2001, and we're running around like it's the dark ages."
Jarvis and Johnson intended to run their ad in the Sunday Oregonian. However, the newspaper refused, calling it "unsuitable for publication." Their attempts to place similar advertisements on city busses and rail cars were also rebuffed.
In addition to the print ad, the duo has also produced a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) stating: "We're two regular people who smoke pot." So far, however, few Portland FM stations have agreed to air the spot, which ends by asking: "Who do you love... who smokes pot?"
NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup praised the couple's stance. "By coming forward publicly, Jeff and Tracy have effectively made the point that the overwhelming majority of pot smokers are responsible, mainstream citizens," he said.
The ad appears online at: http://www.jeffandtracy.com.
British Home Secretary Backs Caution System for Marijuana Offenders
United Kingdom: Newly appointed British Home Office Secretary David
Blunkett praised Scotland Yard's decision to issue a verbal warning in lieu of
arrest to pot smokers in southern London. Blunkett said that the proposal
is in line with U.K. drug policy and entertained the idea of extending the
warning scheme nationwide if it proved successful, The Guardian Unlimited
"This fits in entirely with [our] emphasis on placing absolute priority on class A [hard] drugs ... and on concentrating police resources where they are needed most," he said. Scotland Yard officials argue that cautioning marijuana smokers will free police officers to focus on more serious crimes.
Blunkett also said he encourages politicians to engage in a national debate on drug policy alternatives. His statements mark a stark contrast to his predecessors: former Home Secretary Jack Straw - who opposed any relaxation of current British drug laws - and former shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe, who unsuccessfully lobbied Parliament to toughen the nation's marijuana laws.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751.
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