If you as a bureaucrat or politician find yourself embarrassed, here is what you can do to make us docile.
We have seen this countless times over the years on both sides of the Atlantic and probably Pacific. It does not refer to any one case or official.
- induce awe and loyalty in requester (if there is one) by issuing plastic silver badge, or if requester is not likely pliable, make personal contact to sincerely convince requester (requester can be charity or individual, insincere or sincere, ingenuous or no)1
- unexplained lack of transparency combined with exciting news [not allowed to tell you details, but they are going to be good!]
- appeal to trust and fear [we are sincere THIS time, so don't demand anything or we will stop being sincere!]
- appeal to reciprocity [be grateful for promises]
- the core of bureaucratic theater: create working group, shuffle responsibilities, create committee to outline a vision to create a process (there are infinite combinations of sound and fury you can use to signify your resolve)
- pliable lapdog interposing charity to filter and spin information both ways (great if charity has non-transparent donor list and is sometimes funded by a progress-obstructing agency, but this is not required)
- self-promoting reports of exciting! non-progress (charity will reliably take credit)
- compare non-progress to the past, never to what is needed
- snow everybody with impenetrable government jargon to make us feel incompetent at knowing whether the question was answered or whether the answer is relevant to anything real
- in case anything real might be demanded, fiercely and consistently squash expectations so that a bit of attention or a few studies for a serious disease of 20 million is a generous gift (have charity call it a "breakthrough" to drive the point home)2
- under no circumstances treat us with AIDS-level urgency and priority
- dribble in words we want you to use, but get the facts wrong and never mention disease progression
- if needed, try to isolate and marginalize any activists who say "um, have we seen this before?", or bunch them with our occasional hotheads so we ignore them
- make excuses [these things take time, baby steps, let the adults work]
- use charity to explain why AIDS-level urgency is impossible and ridiculous, but it understands our feelings and thinks it sucks too but that's how the cookie crumbles
If you properly demoralize us using the above, then you can buy a few more years, or if pressured, extricate your agency from its past so slowly the public never notices.
Bureaucratic theater will also prepare the charity for future uses, allow rapid ramp-up in case of PR emergency (the health emergency doesn't count), and provide implausible deniability in case Congress or Parliament hauls you in and asks pointed questions.
By "implausible deniability", I mean "plausible deniability" except that, despite not being plausible, it serves exactly the same purpose. As long as all decision makers and watchdogs treat it as plausible, it is as good as plausible.
You can follow these steps as many times as you like. In fact, you can do FOIA non-compliance and misopathy to your heart's content, with the only drawback being that you will have to do bureaucratic theater a little sooner.
I'm not so sure it's going to work much longer, however. PR emergencies sometimes hit unexpectedly and hard, somewhat like Tolkien's Ents at Isengard. Doing the job the public thinks you have, with a smallish risk to your career, might, in principle, be needed.