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Monitoring Work Programme


Version 1: December 2012

Under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, the UK Statistics Authority has a statutory responsibility to assess the production of National Statistics and candidates for this status against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It also has the responsibility to monitor the production and publication of any official statistics where a concern has been raised in regard to some aspect of them. To this latter end, the Statistics Authority undertakes a series of Monitoring Reviews (previously "M&A Notes" and "Monitoring Briefs"). The back series of such reports is available at:

The list below indicates the topics for Monitoring Reviews that the Authority currently considers to be the highest priority. The Authority intends to start as many of these as possible during 2013. In managing its overall portfolio of work, the Authority needs to balance its responsibilities for monitoring with its statutory obligations for the assessment of sets of statistics’ compliance with the Code of Practice, and its capacity to respond to other priority issues that may arise. (A fraction of the Monitoring and Assessment team’s resources – of the order of 10% – will not be allocated at the outset of the year to enable the team to address issues that may arise later.) The rolling programme of Reviews is deliberately challenging in order to support the assurance that we can give about the trustworthiness of UK official statistics and to enhance further the statistical service. In practice, the Authority expects to undertake around half of the suggested Reviews during 2013. The Authority will keep the range of topics under review and will publish any revisions as appropriate. For completeness, we have also listed those Reviews that started in the latter part of 2012.

Monitoring Reviews are produced according to a series of standard stages. The first main stage is to define the scope of the Review, and to prepare an 'Outline' document. This typically sets out the issues to be explored in the Review, the geographic coverage of the Review, a broad timetable, and the broad methodology that we expect to follow in conducting the Review. Outlines are agreed with the Board of the Statistics Authority or a sub-committee under delegation. These Outlines may be subject to updating or amendment as the study proceeds; if changed substantially the revised version will be placed on the website. The second main stage is to gather, evaluate and quality assure the evidence; the final stage is to write the Review and take it through a series of approval stages including, as the final step before publication, consideration and approval by the Board of the Statistics Authority or a sub-committee under delegation. Given this, there may be a period of several months between the posting of an Outline and completion of the associated Monitoring Review. Outlines are available at:

The nature of monitoring work cannot be predicted perfectly at the outset: research findings may often change the form of the investigation. In some cases, it may become clear that there are no substantive grounds to continue; in this case a short note will be put on the web to summarise the conclusions.  Where it becomes apparent that the Review will focus on matters that are within the scope of the Code of Practice, we may reclassify the work as Assessment. 


Underway in 2012

1  Publishing ONS Statistical Bulletins at 9.30am

2  Robustness of the International Passenger Survey

3  School-level examination results

4  The geography of economic statistics


5  Hospital waiting time statistics

6  Use of official statistics by the financial services sector

7  Pension statistics

8  The publication of ad hoc statistical news releases

9  ONS developments in response to Assessment Reports 2009 to 2012

10  Explaining uncertainty from non-sampling effects in statistical publications

11  The role of government statisticians in meeting user needs

12  Concerns about the comparability and quality of statistics from the four UK administrations

13  The adequacy of statistical audit of administrative data from which National Statistics are produced

14  The implementation of the Pre-Release Access to Official Statistics Orders

15  A review of progress with the Beyond 2011 Census agenda

16  The scope for international benchmarking of the UK statistical system

17  The adequacy of official statistics in those areas of public administration to be covered by payment by results regimes

18  The use of Compendium Publications to present statistics

19  The adequacy of arrangements for statistical oversight in Arm’s Length Bodies

20  The presentation of statistics relating to government targets

21  Media coverage of official statistics

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