Sunday 22 December 2013

Whitehall press release – an apology

In a blog post published on 19 December 2013, The peculiar art of the Whitehall press release, DMossEsq accused a Cabinet Office Minister of describing a manifest failure as a success. DMossEsq was wrong and he apologises.

As part of the move to individual electoral registration (IER), the Electoral Commission have reported on an exercise known as "the data-mining pilot". That exercise was a failure. As the Commission say in their report: "The findings from this pilot do not justify the national roll out of data mining" (pp.8 & 60).

The Whitehall press release quotes Rt Hon Greg Clark MP talking about "the successful dry run of the data matching process over the summer". If he had been referring to the data-mining pilot as DMossEsq wrongly believed that would indeed have been "peculiar".

But the Minister wasn't referring to the data-mining pilot. He was referring to a separate exercise known as "the confirmation dry run".

The report on the confirmation dry run says: "The Electoral Commission evaluated this pilot and concluded that confirmation should be used during the transition to IER as a way of safeguarding against a decline in the completeness of the registers, while maintaining their accuracy" (p.2).

In light of which DMossEsq acknowledges without reservation that the Minister's choice of words is unobjectionable.

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