Code of Practice for Statistics

V4: Innovation and improvement

Statistics producers should be creative and motivated to improve statistics and data, recognising the potential to harness technological advances for the development of all parts of the production and dissemination process.


V4.1 Statistics producers should keep up to date with developments that can improve statistics and data. They should be transparent in conducting their development activities, and be open about the outcomes and longer-term development plans.

V4.2 Statistics producers should consider testing and releasing new official statistics initially as experimental statistics, under the guidance of the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics.

V4.3 Users should be involved in the ongoing development of statistics and data, exploring and testing statistical innovations, so that the statistics remain relevant and useful.

V4.4 Statistics producers should seek to collaborate with other producers, including within the UK and internationally, when developing their statistics, overcoming practical obstacles, and sharing best practice.

V4.5 Statistics producers should keep up to date with developments that might improve methods and quality. They should assess the added value of potential improvements and consider the likely impact on the statistics, including in relation to comparability and coherence.

V4.6 Producers should commit to improve data presentation, enhance insight, and better meet the needs of different types of users and potential users in the dissemination of their statistics and data.

V4.7 New and innovative ways to engage users, potential users and other stakeholders should be considered and adopted as appropriate.

The Reproducible Analytical Pipeline (RAP) was developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS). It’s an innovation that automates some activities within the statistical production and publication processes – specifically, the narrative such as the highlights, graphs and tables. It’s based on algorithms that work the basic data up into a statistical release, thus freeing up resources to further analyse the data.

RAP also enables departments to develop and share high-quality reusable components of their statistics processes. This ‘reusability’ contributes to greater consistency and quality across government, and reduced duplication of effort.

Ministry of Justice, Department for Education, and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have produced statistical releases and associated commentary through the use of RAP. The Information Services Division in Scotland developed a similar tool for their purposes.

This collaboration between data science and traditional data analysis is an innovation in the statistical production process. It leads to efficiency, and creates opportunities to provide further insight into the data.

Description Link Source
An OSR online article on how collaboration can lead to trusted, high quality statistics that provide public value, when it supports producers to improve and innovate in different ways. It draws on examples from producers working in Children, Education and Skills statistics and how they have collaborated to drive improvements. 'Collaboration is key' online article OSR
An OSR online article on innovation in the dissemination of statistics, focusing on positive features of the development process. It draws on examples from producers working in Children, Education and Skills statistics and how they have developed alternative outputs to supplement their main statistical publications. ‘Engaging the audience – exploring statistics beyond the pdf’ online article OSR
A blog by Louisa McCutcheon (OSR) on some of the challenges faced by producers when innovating in the development and presentation of statistics. ‘Overcoming barriers to change’ blog OSR
A resource for official statistics producers to develop their knowledge and understanding of the broad range of methodological approaches used across the Government Statistical Service (GSS). GSS methodology webpage GSS
National Statistician’s guidance on interpreting and implementing the principles and practices of Code which relate to the quality and methodological basis of their official statistics. This document is scheduled for revision in 2018 to reflect version 2.0 of the Code. National Statistician’s Guidance: Quality, Methods, and Harmonisation (2009) GSS
A webpage with links to a series of guidance documents on harmonisation, including what harmonisation is and its aims, the Harmonisation Handbook and the GSS Harmonised Principles. Harmonisation within the GSS webpage GSS
Guidance that sets out the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) policy on experimental statistics. Experimental statistics are a subset of new developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation. The guidance sets out when to use the experimental statistics label, when to introduce experimental statistics, and removal of the experimental statistics label. Guidance on Experimental Statistics GSS
A GSS blog about the work by the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) Client Statistics Branch to develop a variety of formats for releasing their statistics, to cover a wide range of users' needs. GSS data blog: Transforming the release of statistics in DWP GSS
Guidance on using social media to disseminate statistics. It is designed for departments who want to get started on social media, but may also be helpful for departments already using social media. Guidance on using social media in the GSS GSS
Government Digital Service (GDS) guidance on using social media in the public sector. It aims to raise awareness of the digital transformation of government services and to share GDS best practice. Social Media Playbook GDS
Guidance on the UK Government's design principles and examples of how they've been used, from starting with user needs to designing with data. Government design principles UK Government

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