The Authority will use clear criteria to define priorities for its Assessment Work Programme. The criteria include both timeless factors – ones which would always score highly, and contemporaneous ones – which reflect the issues of the day and will change from time to time. We will use the criteria to score different potential assessments, and rank them against each other, and will use the results to help form our judgment about the Assessment Work Programme. The criteria will help us prioritise our efforts on assessment, which are our most important statutory lever for providing assurance and driving change.
A prioritised Assessment Work Programme is not the only means of achieving the Authority’s goals. We have a number of other levers, including continuing compliance checks, monitoring reviews, and supporting and working alongside the National Statistician’s Good Practice team. These additional levers will help us ensure that focussing Assessment effort on higher priority areas will not diminish our reach across the whole statistical system.
The Assessment Work Programme is published at http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/assessment/programme-of-assessment/index.html. We will re-examine the Programme using these criteria regularly, and amend it as necessary.
An Assessment Report’s value is in its impact: the assurance it provides and the change that it drives. We judge this impact by considering the Report’s influence on salient features of the statistical system from the perspective of producers of statistics, and its focus on issues of topical controversy and challenges that impact directly on users of statistics.
Our criteria are:
- impact on Producer behaviour: the extent to which the Report can be a vehicle for changed behaviour on the part of producers. This could be where the Report is likely to target specific areas for improvement, or could have wider applicability because the producer is responsible for a wide range of statistics.
- impact on Statistical policy: the extent to which the Report can highlight salient issues that are broader than those in the statistic itself, such as big data, or the use of administrative data. These issues have general applicability to other statistics, either within the same Department or to others.
- relevance to Parliamentary and public debate: the extent to which the Report deals with statistics that are the subject of, or can inform, current or future public debate.
- assurance on methodology and quality: the extent to which the Report can address issues with controversial or flawed methodologies or approaches; known quality deficiencies, or risks to the integrity of the statistics because of (proposed) changes to methods.
Priority areas for attention
From time to time the Authority will identify priority areas for attention. These will differ as the range of issues and risks the Authority identifies changes. But they are important additional considerations for choosing to conduct an assessment. At present, the areas of priority focus are:
- Economic statistics.
- Statistics relating to welfare reform.
- Healthcare statistics.
- Statistics relating to crime and policing.
- Migration statistics.
- Statistics produced from administrative data.
- Statistics relating to Sustainable Development Goals.