The first half of 2021 has seen further lockdowns, an impressive vaccination rollout and as we ease into the Summer, some easing of restrictions across the UK. It’s also been a busy time for us, as we continue to push for the production of official statistics, and other forms of data, that serve the public good. We really feel that public good matters more than ever.

We recently published our business plan for 2021/22 in which we outline our focus for the statistical system over the coming year and how it can consolidate the huge gains made in data collection and publication. We have also made progress we have made on our role in data. Our review and findings for developing statistical models to award 2020 exam results may well be the most comprehensive review of the 2020 exam story. It’s comprehensive in two senses. It covers all four parts of the UK, unlike other reviews. And it goes beyond technical issues about algorithms to identify lessons for all public bodies that want to use statistical models in a way that supports public confidence. We have also published an insightful review on Reproducible Analytical Pipelines and our research programme.

The use of statistics during the pandemic

Statistics have and will continue to play an important and extremely visible role in all our lives. I recently provided evidence to the inquiry run by the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the use of data during the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, Governments across the UK have maintained a flow of data which has been quite remarkable. We continue to push for further progress, for example on vaccination data.

Statistical Leadership

One thing that the pandemic has highlighted is how important it is for leaders to be analytical, and this is something that our Statistical Leadership report published recently highlights.

Good analytical leadership will be crucial to answering the many questions that have arisen over the course of the pandemic and continue to come to light including the importance of transparency. We are currently planning an in-depth discussion on these issues and more for our second OSR annual conference, which we aim to host later this year, focusing on high quality data, statistics and evidence.

Looking Forward

There are lots of good things happening for statistics at present. I was delighted to see changes to pre-release access in Scotland because equality of access to official statistics is a fundamental principle of statistical good practice.

I am also really looking forward to announcing the results of our 2021 annual award for Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value in July. This is the second year we have worked in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society to offer the award.

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