Part of the problem is that in my experience the goverment either outsource there IT, or due to rates of pay, are not employing the cream of the IT crowd.
It would appear reading between the lines that either there IT staff did not know how to extract the data, or there out sources over complicated the job.
I have come across a couple of firms that when we have asked them for some data from there system it has been a case of:-
1. We need to apoint a project manager.
2. They will write a specification for the job.
3. You must then approve the specification.
4. A programmer will then develop this.
5. This will be test by there testing team.
6. It is then run on the system so we can get the data.
They say they could not subset the data, however, they refer to the current records. Therefore, how did they remove all the old records?
Assuming that for what ever reason that it is impossible to extract just part of the data, there are several tools on the market that allow you to capture the printable output. This can then be convered to a format where they can remove the data that is not needed.
At the end of the day it is all down to lazyness. If they really wanted to only send them the information that they asked for then they could have done.
Worse case they could have told them to come to there office and make the selection. After all they actually one wanted to audit 0.0004% of the records. Again too lazy to send a couple of people to Newcastle.