Today, we are proud to announce the winners of the first ever Voluntary Application of the Code Award. This new and prestigious Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) award is given in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and our media partner Civil Service World.

This rewards excellence in the voluntary application of the ‘pillars’ of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value (TQV) that stand at the heart of the Code of Practice for Statistics. ‘Voluntary application’ was introduced in 2018 by OSR alongside the publication of its refreshed Code of Practice for Statistics. This is where an organisation commits to TQV in how it produces, and releases information not classified as official statistics. Voluntary Application is available for organisations outside Government, and also for Government organisations publishing other types of information like research and open data.

The volume, standard and variety of entries for the award was amazing, making the judging extremely difficult. However, after much deliberation we selected two organisations as the first joint winners and a highly commended runner-up.

These winning organisations are:

  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG): For their Building Safety Programme Monthly Data Release that started in December 2017, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This provides the public, stakeholders and Parliament with the latest data on high-rise residential buildings with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding – reassuring the public on progress and holding HMG and building owners to account in make buildings safe (full case study here).
  • The Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC): Since its creation three years ago, SFC have adhered to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Principles for International Financial Institutions, so were already following the majority of the Code principles. But in March 2018, they published a Statement setting out ongoing commitment to voluntarily apply the Code. This has helped them develop a reputation – not just in Scotland but also at UK level and internationally – for providing independent and credible forecasts that enhance public confidence (full case study here).

Highly commended is:

  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS): For voluntarily application since September 2019, to innovate and improve the accessibility of all outputs. While they have always provided timely and transparent reporting on the HE admissions cycle in the United Kingdom, the pillars of the Code provide a structured and verifiable means of demonstrating commitment to improving UCAS’s data. Over 2018 and 2019, they nominated a Head of Profession for Statistics and a working group to consult on the key changes necessary in order to voluntarily adopt the Code. The work they have completed strengthens their reputation amongst key stakeholders and the public as producers of high quality, useful analytical outputs (full case study here).

Baroness Onora O’Neill of Bengarve, who’s ‘Trustworthiness’ work inspired this award said:

“This new award has proved an exciting opportunity for those pioneering organisations that have voluntarily applied the Code to their statistics to gain additional recognition for their public commitment to high quality and trustworthiness. It has never been more important to recognise the fantastic work that has been undertaken by a wide range of organisations, in applying the principles of the Code and enhance the public value for their users.”

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation and lead judge commented:

“We have had a tremendous quality and variety of entries for this new award, and without doubt have identified two credible and worthy winners. This shows how flexible the Code of Practice is to support public confidence in statistics and data in the public domain.”

Stian Westlake, Chief Executive of the Royal Statistical Society, said:

“The RSS is delighted to have partnered with the Office for Statistics Regulation on this new award. It is essential that statistics are credible to ensure public trust, so this award plays an important role in highlighting and commending those organisations that are voluntarily holding their statistics to a high benchmark. We look forward to a wealth of great entries again next year, demonstrating the merits of the Voluntary Application process.”

The Voluntary Application Award will be presented again in 2021, and information on how to apply will be available early in the New Year. Keep up to date with all of our news on Twitter @StatsRegulation or subscribe to our newsletter.