SENATE COMMITTEE LASHES OUT AT OGILVY & MATHER

Demands 40% Cut in White House Anti-Drug Ad Budget

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Reacting with anger to WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide's win of the
Photo: AP
Sen. Byron Dorgan blasted Ogilvy.
White House drug office account, as well as to a report saying the office's ad program hasn't shown success, a Senate appropriations committee panel today moved to cut the anti-drug program's budget by more than 40%.

"I have great heartburn that [the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy] hired Ogilvy & Mather," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D..

The senator held up a General Accounting Office report on Ogilvy's initial billings for the account as well as a letter from a former drug office official claiming that Ogilvy's time cards were changed after an executive complained about a lack of billings on the account.

Other possible steps
Sen. Dorgan accused the drug office of setting the contract's specifications to downplay past performance and said he is examining other possible steps the Senate could take in regard to the Ogilvy contract and may add them to the appropriations bill. The full committee is slated to take action on the appropriations measure July 16.

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The panel's action would cut the appropriations for the whole anti-drug ad program to $100 million from the $180 million requested by President Bush. The House Appropriations Committee had also cut the request, but to $170 million. Eventually a House-Senate Conference Committee will resolve any differences between the measures.

Blasted Ogilvy
Sen. Dorgan repeatedly blasted Ogilvy, the drug office and the U.S. Navy, which oversaw the contracting process that awarded the account to Ogilvy.

"This is a company that knowingly and willingly filed fraudulent billing invoices," he said of Ogilvy. "I would not have selected them. I'm more than a little steamed about this."

Ogilvy earlier paid for $1.8 million to settle accusations that it overbilled the government on the account, and the White House drug office has defended the government's decision last week to retain Ogilvy after a review that included Ogilvy and other agencies.

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