Something I was reading in the Ryth Chronicle that's been circulating the blogs made me think that searching for information could be greatly simplified: just come up with a minimum cost for that information and keep it secret; when that amount has been spent, you give out the information. Incorrect information can be given out as seen fit prior to reaching that amount.
You can use the magical research guidelines as general guidelines. Spending 2,000 GP per spell level gives a 20% chance of success, and thus 10,000/spell level is the 100% success rate. You could turn the spell research rules inside-out and roll 2d6, subtract 2, set the minimum result to 1, and multiply the result by 1,000 to get the amount per level that must be spent; that would reduce spell research to a single roll to determine the cost (basically, it's a reaction roll.)
For stuff other than spells, the multiplier is some power of 10. For simple common information, 1 GP will do, although you can often get away without paying anything, if you have a good reaction roll. For fairly ordinary but less well-known local facts, cost will be 1 to 10 (no multiplier;) the rarer, more unusual topics get a x10, x100, or x1000 multiplier. If the topic of information is a monster or NPC, use HD as a multiplier in place of spell level.
For even harder-to-find information, use the same system, but money spent only counts if spent in specific locations (unknown to the players, unless their characters research that first.) Similarly, if an NPC being bribed for information thinks this is dangerous, that NPC has a "personal" multiplier of x10 or x100, but the excess spent doesn't count towards the total.