It’s worth noting this new report by Sense About Science published today. Entitled ‘Missing Evidence: an inquiry into the delayed publication of government commissioned research,’ it uncovers a quite staggering degree of ignorance within many Government departments about the policy research they have or have not commissioned, its status and publication. Over £2 billion worth! It also raises questions about the timing of such research and the degree to which this is being manipulated for political means.
The inquiry was chaired by Sir Stephen Sedley and approached with characteristic forensic thoroughness by Sense About Science. The result is an absorbing and often disturbing read. I found the list of departments and how they responded to requests for information particularly interests. Thankfully the Department of Health comes out well in it.
The irony will not be lost on many of us that for others – such as the Home Office or Department for Business -it seems ok to spend millions on research but not have the foggiest what happens to it. But it’s not ok to spend money on collating and providing information about this information because it would be too costly. This in the era of supposedly open Government.
Go figure that one! Or maybe the Treasury will next time there’s a spending review.
Sense About Science are also keeping a Storify going of social media coverage if you are interested.