The estimate: between 10,000 and 40,000 people may no longer be able to afford broadband when ISPs pass-on the cost of implementing sections of the Digital Economy Act designed to tackle copyright infringement over the internet.
This is a story I covered last week, after the government was forced to admit it was "regrettable" that some of the poorest people would be priced off the net in a wild attempt to save the profits of a struggling entertainment industry.
As it turns out, this estimate was first published in a government document dated April 2010 (pdf), but despite my keen and persistent interest in the legislation I had failed to spot this assessment.
Which brings me on to a major problem with open government initiatives - not just publishing information in the first place, but making documents and data readily accessible.
Take this Impact Assessment. Try search the internet for Digital Economy Act (or Bill) Impact Assessment. At the time of writing I get a link to a zero-length PDF document (here - may be fixed by the time you read this).
Nowhere in major search engines do I find the actual document I want. As it transpires, there's a copy in the National Archives, leaving me puzzled as to why, with two instruments still to pass before all planned measures of the act come into force, this crucial impact assessment has so speedily found itself removed from the BIS website and stashed in the National Archives.
It's also worth publishing the URL for the document in full as it somehow captures how well it's been burried:
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100511084737/http:/interactive.bis.gov.uk/digitalbritain/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Digital-Economy-Act-IAs-final.pdfGranted, had I known such documents were likely to have been transferred to the National Archives, I could have started my quest with a search of nationalarchives.gov.uk.
But surely the government can do far better. Why not link to such Impact Assessments from the relevant legislation page on legislation.gov.uk? Checking the More Resources section under this act I found nothing linking back to useful documents such as this Impact Assessment.
Of course we can rely on the press office of government departments to thrust favourable reports into the face of journalists, published in a prominent position on departmental websites. That's a given, and something I don't think we can do much about.
But I hadn't quite appreciated how well some of the less favourable reports were buried. Parliament needs a better system - categorised and classified by subject, and linked to relevant Acts on legislation.gov.uk. And a central portal so one doesn't have to trawl departmental websites, Parliament's website, the National Archives, and any other hidey holes I've yet to discover!