The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has approached a number of agencies about handling its $160 million anti-drugs media campaign, as incumbent Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in New York attempts to clear its name over accusations that it overbilled.

O&M won the account in December 1998, signing a twelve-month contract with four one-year renewal options, three of which have been ratified The fourth comes up for renewal on January 3 2002.

However, last year a former agency staffer claimed O&M had over-charged its client – an accusation the shop denied, blaming any anomalies on its unfamiliarity with government accounting practices [WAMN: 13-Dec-01]. Last month, the ONDCP was urged to drop O&M if the agency could not comply with such practices [WAMN: 04-Jul-01].

The ONDCP revealed it “is conducting market research to determine whether the current contract terms meet the government’s needs and whether Ogilvy is best suited to meet those needs.”

Countered O&M’s Paul Clark: “We feel strongly that we have given service to ONDCP in excess of what was written into the contract and that the accounting procedures that were problems have been corrected.”

News source: New York Times