An announcement last week was so low-key, readers may have missed it. National Association of Realtors revised its national home-sales figures dating back to 2007.
Previously, the Realtors group reported last year's total sales figure was 4.91 million homes. That total would have been the lowest in 13 years. But last week, that figure was amended - to 4.2 million homes.
At least the inconsistency was consistent. Earlier, NAR had reported home sales from 2007 through last October totaled 24.8 million. A week ago, the total for that period was lowered to 21.3 million. The error - 3.5 million - was nearly 15 percent of the total.
The point here isn't to chastise the Realtors association. The group has admitted the miscalculation and revised the information. Economists will have to decide for themselves whether to rely on the data.
But it does serve as a warning for those who would put their faith in a growing number of Washington "czars," whose purpose is to oversee various aspects of government. President Barack Obama has appointed more than three dozen directors, advisers, administrators, counselors and managers. President George W. Bush appointed nearly as many.
Imagine if other key data used in decision-making - employment figures, health insurance coverage rates, carbon emissions, inflation - were off by even 5 percent, whether by accident or design. Now imagine a so-called "czar" basing policy decisions on such data ... decisions that could govern how you live.
It's not difficult to imagine the hazards of relinquishing more control to unelected officials.