“Fudge” the numbers? Really in many parts of government it is far beyond “fudging.” And sadly much of the public just shrugs as government lies to it about the cost of this program or that. This further incentivizes ever more “fudging.”
Using misrepresentation upon misrepresentation, “analysts”—who know “they will never work in this town again” unless they reach the answers their employers want—can reverse-engineer the assumptions necessary to produce them. But they have little relationship to reality and provide virtually no useful guidance.