Since our performance audit in 1995 the government has improved guidance for agencies and introduced a more robust framework for approving advertising campaigns. Greater rigour has been introduced into the process by requiring campaigns to be peer reviewed and approved by Cabinet. This new approach aims to improve the effectiveness and value for money of government advertising. We found however that the current guidelines are not adequate to prevent the use of public funds for party political purposes. We also found it difficult to obtain information on the total amount spent on advertising campaigns. This is because there is no central record of the total expenditure, only the cost of placing advertisements in the media. Greater transparency around what is spent would support more accurate and informed debate.
Parliamentary reference - Report number #171 - released 29 August 2007