It turns out that British officials take similar positions:
Having considered these guidance notes, their definitions of social research and the report in question, I can confirm that I do not consider ‘Listening to Troubled Families’ as being within the definition of Government social research and thus the scope of the guidance. My rationale for this is that this report falls more properly within the description ‘dipstick/informal information gathering’.
(Reply from Jane Todorovic, Head of Profession for the Government Social Research (GSR) service at DCLG, 3 October 2012)
[“Policy Based on Unethical Research.” Poverty and Social Exclusion. Accessed January 25, 2013. http://www.poverty.ac.uk/news-and-views/articles/policy-built-unethical-research. h/t Robert Dingwall]