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Military may camouflage statistics

Martin Rosenbaum | 14:14 UK time, Monday, 4 September 2006

Following on from my previous post, here's a nice example of a refusal to disclose information which is based on the fear that disclosing it would distort the behaviour of civil servants.

This is why the Ministry of Defence refused to reveal statistics contained in briefing folders prepared for ministers for Parliamentary question time:

"If officials knew that the statistics included in briefing folders were likely to be published, they would tend either to include many more statistics so as to camouflage those of particular interest, or to omit statistics altogether."

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Having worked with official statistics in the past and found them at time difficult to use I had always assumed this was just general lack of imagination on the behalf of government departments.
In the MoD at least it seems this is a recognised way to stop people getting to grips with the numbers.
Still the MoD does not seem too worried by this behaviour.

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