A priority in many international educational development projects in the Third World is the increased use of information in policy formulation and planning. This, in turn, has resulted in considerable attention and resources being devoted to design and implementation of education management information systems (EMIS). However, those sponsoring such systems often fail to understand the impact these systems can have on other activities within the education sector and, as a result, the resistance that may arise to EMIS. Consequently, in planning EMIS, sponsors often fail to provide adequate individual and organizational incentives to encourage use of improved educational data at the national level. This paper presents a case study from Liberia to illustrate the importance of adequate attention being given to the incentive structure surrounding the development and use of national level data in policy formulation and management at the national level. © 1991 Taylor & Francis Ltd.