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The government buries bad spin on the Gun Registry

The gun registry could continue to spiral out of control:

Costs for the controversial gun registry program could continue to "spiral out of control" unless the government takes steps to curb spending, an external audit warns.

I'm not sure about this audit for two reasons. First, the very next paragraph refers to the same document as a "financial report", which I don't believe is as stringent as an audit, nor does it have the same goals. Second, the audit or financial report or whatever it is was prepared by Hill & Knowlton, which is not really an audit firm, but a firm that specializes in "public relations, public affairs and strategic communications" providing such esoteric services such as "reputation management". More from their web site:

In today's increasingly vigilant and information-driven marketplace, communications has become a cornerstone of success. Our strategic counsel - delivered by a dedicated team of experienced and seasoned professionals - is helping many of the world's leading corporations and organizations, large and small, react quickly and creatively to change, giving them the insight to turn unexpected risk into competitive advantage.

Our professional crisis managers have experience handling any event or series of events that could seriously damage your corporate reputation. From environmental and airline disasters to food and consumer product health and safety issues, ethical and financial issues, we've developed crisis management strategies, trained media spokespeople and provided on-site logistical assistance and ongoing counsel as the crisis unfolds.

Unexpected risk into competitive advantage -- handling ethical and financial issues -- it looks like the government spent our money on spin doctors hoping to make the Gun Registry look good.

Of course, that's not how the media is reporting it.

But even the spinmeisters of Hill & Knowlton couldn't make the registry look good. Instead they list all the ways the gun registry is likely to blow up in the government's face, which is part of their job as "reputation managers". I can't tell you exactly what these risks areas are, because the report obtained under Access to Information by Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, is censored:

The report from last April censors several key sections, including a list of areas of concern for "financial risk."

Slamming the reams of information that has been whited out in the 40-page document, Breitkreuz said the censoring is a deliberate attempt to keep the public in the dark about a badly managed "fiasco."

Too bad the government didn't get what they hoped for, but in all fairness, we the taxpayers should know how much risk is associated with this program that has cost up to $2 billion to date. Instead, the government buries the report and continues to spend our money. There is no evidence that any of the "areas of concern" are being addressed.

In fact, given that these are spin doctors, the areas of concern are probably not so much focused on making the gun registry work, but on what needs to be done to make sure things look like they're working. But then that's just speculation, made necessary by the "reams" of censored information.

Of course, everything is fine, according to Anne McLellan:

Alex Swann, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan whose department oversees the program, said the concept of a centre with its own reporting regime is part of the government's commitment to "transparency" in accounting costs to Parliament.

[Update: Changed "continues to spiral" to "could continue to spiral" in the first sentence. That's an accurate reading of the report. Thanks to Robert McClelland for point that out.]

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