T2: Independent decision making and leadership

Organisations should assign a Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics who upholds and advocates the standards of the Code, strives to improve statistics and data for the public good, and challenges their inappropriate use.

 

T2.1 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should have sole authority for deciding on methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of the release of regular and ad hoc official statistics. This should include: determining the need for new official statistics, ceasing the release of official statistics, and the development of experimental statistics.

T2.2 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should actively advocate the application of the Code pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value to all those involved in producing, publishing and using statistics and data in the organisation.

T2.3 As the principal adviser and accountable officer on statistical matters within the organisation, the views of the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should be considered in all matters relating to statistics and data.

T2.4 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should encourage collaboration, harmonisation and innovation with other organisations, both inside and outside government and across professional groups.

T2.5 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should challenge the inappropriate use of statistics and data and reflect upon how further misuse can be prevented.

T2.6 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should report to the National Statistician on professional matters, or where in a devolved administration, to the Chief Statistician for the relevant administration.

T2.7 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should report immediately any concerns regarding professional independence and accidental or wrongful release of statistics to the National Statistician. In devolved administrations, the Chief Statistician for the relevant administration should be informed first, except where it is inappropriate to do so.

T2.8 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should report any concerns about continuing to meet the principles of the Code to the Director General for Regulation.

T2.9 In rare circumstances, an organisation may not be able to implement a specific practice of the Code. In this situation, the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should request an exemption from that practice of the Code from the Director General for Regulation and publish details of the exemption.

In July 2016, the Welsh Government’s Head of Profession for Statistics wrote to the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to request that the National Statistics designation of its Homelessness Statistics in Wales be temporarily suspended, as some local authorities faced difficulty in providing complete and accurate data following changes to the legislation that impacted the data collection.

Statisticians in the Welsh Government engaged extensively with local authorities to improve data collection practices and strengthen the quality assurance of the data used to produce these statistics. This involved issuing new guidance, holding workshops with local authorities to discuss difficulties in data collections and clarifying definitions and carrying out detailed reviews of individual data collection forms.

Welsh Government’s Head of Profession for Statistics wrote to OSR again around a year later. He set out the actions taken by the statisticians to ensure the quality of data recorded by local authorities and requested an end to the temporary suspension, which resulted in the National Statistics status being restored.

In June 2018, the Ministry and Housing and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Head of Profession for Statistics wrote to OSR outlining planned changes to MHCLG’s statutory homelessness statistics, following the introduction of the 2018 Homelessness Reduction Act.

The Head of Profession highlighted that the change would result in a break in the statistical series, as future homelessness data was being collected on a different basis by English local authorities going forwards. She noted that as similar legislative changes in Scotland and Wales had initially had a negative impact on data quality, new MHCLG homelessness statistics would be published as experimental statistics from the end of 2018, until MHCLG was sufficiently assured about the quality of the new data. The Head of Profession also set out plans to test the new experimental statistics by engaging with users of homelessness statistics to obtain their feedback.

These examples highlight the central role of the Head of Profession for Statistics in assessing continued compliance with the Code and determining the need for statistical developments to reflect changing legislative context and users’ needs. As required by the Code, they also highlight the Head of Profession’s role in reporting concerns they may have about continuing to meet the standards of the Code to the Director General for Regulation.

DescriptionLinkSource
Guidance that sets out the roles and responsibilities of Heads of Profession for Statistics. Heads of Profession for Statistics have three key responsibilities: Comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics; Lead the Government Statistical Service (GSS); and Build Statistical Capability and Capacity. It includes a statement of the role of Lead Officials for Statistics and their engagement with the UK Statistical System.Roles and responsibilities of Heads of Profession for StatisticsGSS
Guidance for the Head of Profession on stopping, or changing the scope of, official statistics. The Head of Profession, as the local representative of the National Statistician within a department, is responsible for deciding who to notify and when/whether to escalate any proposed change of scope or cessation proposal to the National Statistician (usually via the Good Practice Team) or the Office for Statistics Regulation.Cessations and Changes to Scope of Official Statistics: Guidance for Heads of ProfessionGSS
The Better Statistics, Better Decisions Strategy, published in October 2014, sets out the collective mission of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the GSS: to provide high quality statistics, analysis and advice to help Britain make better decisions.GSS strategy: Better Statistics, Better DecisionsGSS
A 2017 update of progress against the Better Statistics, Better Decisions GSS Strategy, three years after its launch.GSS strategy: Better Statistics, Better Decisions – Three Years OnGSS
The latest UKSA business plan, published in April 2018, covers the period 2018-2021. The plan outlines how the Betters Statistics, Better Decisions Strategy supports professional oversight of the UK system of official statistics and exclusive responsibility for the Office for National Statistics (ONS).UK Statistics Authority Business Plan 2018-2021 (PDF, 0.90MB)UKSA
A document that summarises the process to create, update and agree all GSS policies, standards, guidance and strategies. The document highlights the process required to upload documents on the Policy Store and the metadata which should be included within them.Governance for Statistical Policies, Standards and GuidanceGSS
The final report of the independent review of UK economic statistics, led by Professor Sir Charles Bean of the London School of Economics, was published in March 2016. It considers the challenges of statistical measurement in the modern economy.Independent review of UK economic statistics: final reportIndependent review

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