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Every submission to the secretary of state has to be accompanied with a value-for-money calculation. This is taken to absurd lengths; nonplussed civil servants had to find a measure of value for Mitchell’s recent visit to the UN summit on the millennium development goals, so they resorted to adding up column inches of media coverage and calculating what that would have cost as advertising. Many crucial issues in government can’t easily be measured in monetary terms.

That’s Madeleine Bunting on the general silliness of DFID’s value-for-money requirements. Hat tip to Duncan Greene.

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