This Agency Has to Write a Government Contract Just to Promote its Facebook Posts

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The Defense Commissary Agency wants more people to see its posts, which include recipes and food jokes.

Critics say the federal procurement process is unnecessarily complex, and they might be right.

One Pentagon agency has to write a federal contract just to promote some of its Facebook posts, many of which are recipes and food-related jokes.

The Defense Commissary Agency, which sells groceries to military personnel worldwide, wants to make sure more of its roughly 56,000 followers see and engage with its social media postings. The agency is considering either a direct contract with Facebook or a third party that can pay Facebook to prominently feature its content in followers’ News Feeds.

Facebook’s “Boost” feature lets businesses pay to make its posts appear more frequently on Facebook and Instagram, the photo-sharing service it also owns. The cost varies depending on the number of followers a page has, and the number of Facebook users a business wants to reach. For instance, a page with 8,000 followers might pay $5 to reach 700 people, or $100 to reach 10,000.

Facebook allows businesses to choose their own budget for each post, and calculates the reach accordingly. Boosted posts are labeled “sponsored,” but appear in a user’s News Feed instead of near other ads.

The agency previously paid Facebook directly to promote its posts, using a government purchase card, but “now requires a formal contract/purchase order for the recurring service,” according to a new FBO posting. DeCA has been “unable to verify” if Facebook will agree to a direct contract.

Even though it plans to work with an outside group, the agency will retain the authority to cancel, edit or delete posts and the boosts, the posting said.

Nextgov has requested comment from DeCA and Facebook.