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Westat statistical survey research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.

Department of Education Review of PR Contracts

In the aftermath of the controversy over the Department of Education hiring Armstrong Williams as a sub-contractor to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, the department's Inspector General reviewed all PR contacts in the 2002-2004 period.

Westat won a $170,000 contract with the Department of Education in the 1999-2004 period. Westat in turn sub-contracted Ogilvy Public Relations to assist with the contract. The Inspector-General summarised the contract as being to "perform multiple tasks associated with the dissemination of the NCES release of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results." (NCES is the acronym for the National Center for Education Statistics.)

The Inspector-General noted that aside from one of the task orders with the subcontract requiring "B-roll footage including students in educational settings and video clips from a PISA press conference." It also called for the production of opinion columns for the editorial pages of newspapers (commonly referred to as "op-eds".)

The contract stated that Ogilvy was required to "write two different versions of an op-ed and identify two credible, respected authors and work with NCES/Westat to place the item in an appropriate time adjacent to the PISA release."

The Inspector-General was unable to check whether the DoE funding was disclosed or not as "We were unable to review the op-eds. The Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) stated that during the course of contract performance the op-ed task was abandoned." It found that the B-roll footage was "not covert propaganda." [1]

Contact detaiuls

Main Campus
1650 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 301-251-1500
Web: http://www.westat.com/

External links

  • Department of Education Office of Inspector General, "Review of Department Identified Contracts and Grants for Public Relations Services" (ED-OIG / I13F0012), issued September 1, 2005; available in MS Word (432K) and PDF (214K) formats.