Thursday, February 07, 2008

Transform in the Economist: FOI documents hit the media

I'm pleased to see that a cost effectiveness report (looking at the CSR targets for the drug strategy) released by the Home Office following a Freedom of Information request from Transform has received its first media attention in the Economist. The report in question can be read on the Transform website here. As the quote provided in the piece indicates, there is, in some respectrs, a bigger story here than the revealing analysis in the report itself. There have been more recent CSR reports that the Government have specifically refused to release on dubious grounds. The Home Office also undertook a Value for Money study on the various strands of the strategy spending last year - that they have also refused to publish or release, despite our FOI requests.

This suppression of this information is particularly galling given that last year we had the 10 year strategy review and consultation process - for which this sort of objective cost benefit analysis is absolutely vital. Instead we got the ridiculous rose tinted propaganda piece that was the strategy consultation document - about which Transform and various high level Whitehall authorities have already made their views abundantly clear.

Whatever your policy views, it is hard to see how restricting information and analysis on what has worked and what hasn't in the strategy (and how much it has all cost), is in anyones' interest apart from ministers trying to hide failure and avoid embarrassment. It is, quite simply, a total disgrace, and as time will no doubt show, deceit tends to be uncovered and the trouble caused by it far worse than that would have been caused by telling the truth in the first place.

click to read the pdf

More to follow including a Transform briefing next week and more media coverage over the weekend.

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