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A look inside the BC government's PR department

Among the 7,849 pages of documents gathered by Premier Clark's deputy minister John Dyble to investigate the Liberals' misuse of government resources in its multicultural outreach strategy was a hidden gem: the confidential staff contact list for Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE).

The GCPE website explains that it is responsible for informing the public about government programs and services.

The NDP slammed GCPE for its role in the pre-election B.C. Jobs Plan ad campaign that, it argued, was intended to improve the image of the ruling Liberals. In 2011/12 GCPE had a $26.155 million budget.

What's interesting about the Feb. 18 revised staff contact list, marked "for internal use only," is not so much the names but the numbers. The list shows 225 positions in the GCPE, which is headed by Deputy Minister Athana Mentzelopoulos. The largest division within the organization currently is media monitoring services, with 18 staffers. 

The number of government staff in public affairs and media relations has grown since 2003/04. 

That year (when it was known as the Public Affairs Bureau) there were 180 full-time equivalencies. In 2007/08 there were 214. 

Directly under Mentzelopoulos there are seven people in strategic planning and events. 

This division, headed by Assistant Deputy Minister John Paul Fraser and advisor Catherine Loiacono, oversees citizen engagement (6 personnel), writing and editorial services (5), marketing and communications support services (2), advertising and marketing services (3), graphic design (6), and social media and digital services (6).

The central government ministries and agencies have 142 names in their dedicated communications offices: aboriginal affairs (4), advanced education (6), multiculturalism (5), agriculture (4), children and family development (7), citizens’ services and open government (4), community, sport and cultural development (6), education (9), energy and mines (12), environment (7), finance (9), forests (7), health (13), jobs, tourism and skills training (11), justice (10), policing and community services (1), emergency management BC (5), attorney general (6), social development (5), transport and infrastructure (11).

The 32-spot corporate services division falls under executive director Denise Champion. 

It includes human resources (3), financial services (4), records services (3), systems solutions and architecture (11), and business continuity recovery team (11). 

To see the entire staff list, click on the section below:

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990.

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