Assessment and Designation as National Statistics
The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 gives the UK Statistics Authority a statutory power to assess sets of statistics against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Assessment will determine whether it is appropriate for the statistics to be designated as National Statistics. Designation as National Statistics means that the statistics comply with the Code of Practice. The Code is wide-ranging. Designation can be interpreted to mean that the statistics: meet identified user needs; are produced, managed and disseminated to high standards; and are explained well.
Designation as National Statistics should not be interpreted to mean that the statistics are always correct. For example, whilst the Code requires statistics to be produced to a level of accuracy that meets users’ needs, it also recognises that errors can occur – in which case it requires them to be corrected and publicised.
Assessment Reports will not normally comment further on a set of statistics, for example on their validity as social or economic measures. However, Reports may point to such questions if the Authority believes that further research would be desirable.
Assessment Reports typically provide an overview of any noteworthy features of the methods used to produce the statistics, and will highlight substantial concerns about quality. Assessment Reports also describe aspects of the ways in which the producer addresses the ‘sound methods and assured quality’ principle of the Code, but do not themselves constitute a review of the methods used to produce the statistics. However the Code requires producers to “seek to achieve continuous improvement in statistical processes by, for example, undertaking regular reviews”.
The Authority may grant designation on condition that the producer body takes steps, within a stated timeframe, to fully meet the Code’s requirements. This is to avoid public confusion and does not reduce the obligation to comply with the Code. The Authority grants designation on the basis of three main sources of information:
- factual evidence and assurances by senior statisticians in the producer body;
- the views of users who we contact, or who contact us, and;
- our own review activity.
Should further information come to light subsequently which changes the Authority’s analysis, it may withdraw the Assessment Report and revise it as necessary.
It is a statutory requirement on the producer body to ensure that it continues to produce the set of statistics designated as National Statistics in compliance with the Code of Practice.
This description of the Assessment and Designation process has been published in Assessment Reports 48 onwards. It supersedes previous descriptions used in Assessment Reports 21 to 47 and in Assessment Reports 1 to 20. These, in turn, were further developments of the Authority’s Statement dated 2 December 2008.