Principles and Procedures for Assessment

Extract from the Code of Practice for Official Statistics: Report on the consultation and the principles and procedures for Assessment (539.6 Kb PDF document)


  1. Section 17 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 requires the UK Statistics Authority to prepare and publish a statement of:
    1. the principles to which it will have regard; and
    2. the procedures which it will adopt
  2. in exercising its functions under sections 12(1) and 14(1) of the Act – these are the functions of assessment and re-assessment of statistics against the Code of Practice.
  3. The Authority’s Monitoring and Assessment Team will systematically review the evidence from producers, users and other stakeholders against the Code of Practice. We do not propose that published reports should include detailed ‘scores’ against each part of the Code – instead reports will provide a considered assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the statistical activities being assessed, highlighting good practice as well as areas for improvement.
  4. The assessment against the Code of Practice will cover all aspects of the work leading to the statistical output/publication and its dissemination.
  5. The statement, set out below, details the procedures that will be followed. It is likely that these will evolve as the Authority gains experience of the processes involved and the statement will be revised from time to time as required.
  6. Any substantive changes will be subject to further consultation and the statement will carry an indication of which edition it is.

Statement of Principles and Procedures for Assessment

January 2009

1. This statement covers:

  • the aims of the UK Statistics Authority’s assessment function;
  • the principles which the Authority will adopt when assessing official statistics; and
  • the procedures and methods which the Authority will follow.

Aims of assessment

2. In accordance with section 7(3) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, the aim of the Authority’s assessment function is to promote and safeguard the quality of official statistics, good practice in relation to official statistics, and the comprehensiveness of official statistics. Official statistics include those designated as National Statistics.

3. The specific requirements in relation to assessment are set out in sections 12 and 14 of the Act – to “determine whether the Code of Practice for Statistics … has been [or continues to be] complied with“, and to “designate [or confirm the previous designation of] the statistics as National Statistics”; otherwise the Authority must “decline … to designate them …” [or “otherwise cancel their designation”].

4. The assessment function will further aim (i) to help the producers of official statistics to enhance the quality of the statistical service over a period of time, and (ii) to communicate the extent of compliance with the Code to Parliament and the public.

Principles of assessment

5. Assessments will be conducted in accordance with the following five principles:

  • Risk-based – prioritising those areas of statistical activity which are considered to present a risk to the quality and reputation of official statistics.
  • Proportionate – taking account of the concerns and priorities of users of statistics.
  • Cost-effective – making use of existing documentation where available, and avoiding unnecessary burdens on producers or users of statistics. In the interests of efficiency, the Authority may group together (‘bundle’) related statistics, or statistics with common features, for the purposes of assessment.
  • Transparent – operating in an open manner which inspires confidence in the Authority’s work.
  • Consistent – applying the same principles and standards in all cases.


6. Assessments will:

  • take place in accordance with a published programme, although ad-hoc assessments may be required from time to time in order to report on matters of public concern;
  • take account of correspondence and discussion with the managers responsible for the statistics;
  • take account of self-evaluation evidence from the relevant managers; and
  • involve an opportunity for users of statistics and other stakeholders to contribute to the assessment, and explicitly consider any such contribution.

7. Assessment reports will also:

  • be prepared in accordance with the Civil Service core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality[1];
  • be completed within a reasonable timescale;
  • reflect the views and needs of users of statistics and other external stakeholders, and take account of all the available information, comparing the evidence against published standards and criteria;
  • give a brief account of the assessment of compliance against each of the Code’s main principles and protocols;
  • list proposals and recommendations which promote and support improvement;
  • be relevant and accessible – reporting findings and conclusions fairly, clearly, and openly and in a manner which is useful to, and understood by, producers, users and the public;
  • present clearly the Monitoring and Assessment Team’s conclusions in relation to the degree to which the statistics comply with the Code of Practice; the nature of any improvements needed; and a recommendation to the Authority as to whether the statistics should be, or should continue to be, designated as ‘National Statistics’;
  • be shown to the relevant producer body in draft form prior to publication, in order to ensure factual accuracy;
  • be published as soon as possible after completion.


8. Self-evaluations will be conducted using a standard template based on the Code of Practice and this will form the starting point for discussions between the Monitoring and Assessment Team and managers. This information will be supplemented by:

  • any previously published reviews of the statistics;
  • any other relevant information acquired by the Monitoring and Assessment Team at any time;
  • any information submitted by users or stakeholders.

9. The Statistics Authority’s annual reports to the UK Parliament and devolved legislatures will list the assessments conducted in the previous year with their conclusions, as well as those planned for the coming year.

Prior notification

10. Managers in the producer body will normally be notified at least three months in advance of a planned assessment by means of updates to the Programme of Assessment which the Authority will publish in accordance with the Act. Exceptions to this notification period will be explained publicly by the Authority.


  1. Cabinet Office Civil Service Code (2006)