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CUTS PLANNED IN WHITE HOUSE DRUG OFFICE BUDGET

Legislators Want More Money Spent on Advertising Buys

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- In an apparent victory for the Partnership for Drug Free America, a congressional committee is today expected to vote to cut $10 million from the White House drug office's $180 million budget.

In addition, a panel of the House Appropriations Committee wants the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy to spend $150 million of the $170 million it gets on media buys for its anti-drug advertising.

In the past, besides funding media buys and payments to agencies for costs, the $180 million program has included money for evaluation of the media campaign, a Web site and Web advertising, an extensive public relations effort that has included outreach to anti-drug groups and a $2.5 million-a-year grant program for research. The grant program was canceled last week.

Not succeeding
The Partnership for Drug Free America has charged that one of the reasons the White House anti-drug campaign isn't succeeding is because too much of the program budget has been spent on these non-media activities.

U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., the chairman of the panel, which is expected to move the drug office's budget to the full House Appropriations committee, said the panel's intention is to cut administrative overhead, which he called "exorbitant." A fact sheet distributed by the panel said the program's continuation will depend on the drug office showing that the advertising reduces youth drug use.

A drug office official said the proposed budget would not give the office sufficient money to do what Congress wants -- pay ad agencies production costs and evaluate the program's success.

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