Obama nixes federal swag, Politico
"On Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order that will direct government agencies to, among other things, "stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag." What exactly falls under the category of "swag"? Plaques, "nonessential items used for promotional purposes" like clothing, pens and mugs, and "other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase," according to the White House, which did not respond to multiple requests for more details about the "swag" and its cost."
Executive Order -- Promoting Efficient Spending, White House
"Sec. 7. Extraneous Promotional Items. Agencies should limit the purchase of promotional items (e.g., plaques, clothing, and commemorative items), in particular where they are not cost-effective."
NASA solicitation: Drawstring Backpack Wooden pencils and jumbo pens
"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for Drawstring Backpack, Qty: 12,000 EA in accordance the attached requirements: Round Wooden Pencils, Qty: 10,000 EA in accordance with the attached requirements and Ink Pens, Qty: 10,000 EA in accordance with the attached requirements."
NASA solicitation: NASA educational outreach items
"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for various educational, outreach items with the NASA logo: Astronaut stress reliever, Earth squeeze ball, Drawstring backpack ..."
Keith's note: NASA buys this give-away crap in huge quantities without any notion as to whether its distribution accomplishes anything of value to the agency or to the individuals who receive it. All too often NASA staff end up throwing a lot of it away because it is cheaper than shipping it back to their office after an event. ESMD and SOMD are among the worst offenders. And now with the merger of ESMD and SOMD much of it will get pulped because the mail codes have changed. Remember all of that Constellation stuff ... I have asked HEOMD's Beth Beck more than once for her "plan" for EPO and the metrics she uses to measure its effectiveness. She has never bothered to reply. Its is obvious that there is no plan - nor are there any metrics. Nor does she seem to be at all bothered by this situation. The same is true across the agency. To make things worse - no one coordinates anything. The net result is both duplication and competition.
If NASA actually had a coherent education and public outreach activity that spanned all directorates, projects, missions, and field centers - one that adhered to a clear, cohesive strategy - and was measured and evaluated with metrics, I would suspect that the expenditure of these EPO funds would result in something of tangible value. Alas, just watch as NASA finds a way to evade the intent of this executive order and continues to spew these useless trinkets under the misimpression that they actually have value.