TIME White House

U.S. Secret Service Seeks A Media Relations Specialist

The Secret Service aims to polish its image after agents' bad behavior by hiring a consultant to train them on how to interact with the media

After a spate of bad-behavior incidents, the United States Secret Service is looking to polish up its image.

According to a new contract posting, the agency is looking to hire an outside consultant to conduct media relations training courses for its employees. The move comes after several highly-publicized embarrassments for the department, including the reprimand of three agency employees on President Barack Obama’s trip to Europe in March after one passed out in a hotel hallway after a night of drinking in Amsterdam.

The training, though, appears to be tailored to the agency’s day-to-day work, as well as crisis response. From the agency’s request:

The Media Relations course prepares executives for television and radio interviews, and encounters with the media on routine matters as well as during crisis situations. The executive becomes more comfortable as they learns how to conduct themselves during interviews and press conferences and giving speeches, and deal with both positive and negative subjects as they learn the fundamentals of media and techniques.

The course exposes the executive to the media environment –microphones, lights, cameras, tape recorders, news media personalities and their questions, so that they becomes more accustomed to that scene. In turn, they become more confident and less apprehensive in addition to becoming better prepared for an event with what they can say, and how they should say it.

The agency wants a trainer with at least three years experience working with law enforcement agencies, and “must either be or have access to professional journalists and equipment in order to conduct practical, legitimate exercises and be able to state what they have or have access to and expect to use.” According to the posting, the agency will provide a subject matter expert to help the instructor prepare Secret Service-specific scenarios for training purposes.

Update: 11:47 a.m.: Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan sends along this statement: “We have had outside consultants conduct media training for the Secret Service for decades. We are currently soliciting for a competitively awarded Blanket Purchase Agreement for one 12 month base period and four twelve month option periods to continue to satisfy our training needs. The Request for Quotations was issued as a small business set –aside, and will result in an award made to a small business vendor. The acquisition planning stage begins much earlier in the process, which includes market research, discussions on competition and small business considerations, as well as the development of the scope of work, etc. Ultimately, quotations will be evaluated based upon the established evaluation criteria, a selection will be made and an award will be issued.”

With reporting by Mark Thompson

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