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Lucas cracks the whip on government advertising

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The State Government will tighten its reporting guidelines for government advertising and marketing to ensure the total cost is disclosed at the beginning of each campaign.

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InDaily reported in July that the body in charge of government advertising, the Government Communications Advisory Committee, had scaled back its public reporting on communication campaigns’ cost and effectiveness.

The GCAC was formed in July 2019 and, as of June this year, had published one evaluation report for the financial year. In the previous financial year, the Government had reported monthly on campaigns’ cost and effectiveness.

In response to InDaily’s questions about the frequency of reporting, Treasurer Rob Lucas, who chairs GCAC, promised to review the guidelines.

Today, he said he had approved an amendment to the guidelines to require additional reporting and greater transparency about the cost of campaigns.

In addition to the current rules requiring public reporting of the total cost and an “evaluation summary” for each approved communications initiative, typically done after its completion, the GCAC will now publish the cost of each campaign as it begins.

“This enhanced reporting will ensure South Australians are better informed about Government communications initiatives’ associated costs at the start of a campaign period, not just at the end,” Lucas said.

“The total cost and an evaluation summary for each communications initiative above $50,000 (ex GST) will continue to be published on the DPC website.”

Lucas also blamed some departments for the lag in reporting.

“Some agencies have been tardy in providing evaluation summaries for publication and new processes have now been implemented to ensure agencies meet their reporting obligations,” he said.

GCAC’s latest evaluation report, published here, shows spending on government communication campaigns last financial year worth just over $4 million.

The two biggest campaigns were for the Tour Down Under, at a cost of just over $1.3 million, and a public health campaign about COVID-19, worth more than $1.1 million.

The latter included a cost of $27,000 for the Government’s COVID-19 online portal, $753,000 on media advertising, $188,000 on production costs, and $178,000 on market research.

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