Today the Office for Statistics Regulation has published its 2021/22 State of the Statistical System Report.
The UK statistical system is performing strongly at a time of multiple challenges, but still with room for improvement, according to the Office for Statistics Regulation’s (OSR) latest annual review for 2021/22.
The official statistical system comprises the Office for National Statistics, the work of statisticians in government departments and public bodies, as well as the OSR itself, all of which are overseen by the UK Statistics Authority.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, climate change and cost of living has posed significant challenges to our society. In these and many other areas, the statistics and data produced by public bodies are vital to help decision makers and the wider public understand what is happening, make informed choices and inform policy.
Against this backdrop, OSR found that the statistical system has continued to deliver more timely and real-time data, demonstrating a greater ability to respond quickly on a range of topics. The system has also widened its use of dashboards, portals and other data tools that cater for wider needs from expert and non-expert users.
OSR’s report finds that innovation and collaboration to share and link data has continued. However, there is still much more to do in addressing significant barriers that remain if we are to enjoy the full benefits of linked data.
There are also encouraging signs of greater innovation in how statistics are collected and produced, with new data sources and data collection methods being used and greater use of automation, through Reproducible Analytical Pipelines. OSR applauds this innovation but expects more effort to communicate uncertainty surrounding statistical estimates. In addition, OSR calls for greater transparency around development plans for statistics to enable users to understand upcoming changes.
Over the last year, OSR has handled several cases where Government has used unpublished statistics in the public domain or not explained them sufficiently well. The report emphasises the importance of the principles of intelligent transparency to support public confidence.
Sir Robert Chote, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority said:
“The OSR report strikes a good balance, highlighting where the system is performing strongly in the face of significant social and economic challenges, but rightly urging greater effort where there are improvements to be made. Key priorities are to ensure that data is shared and used effectively, and that ministers and others are upfront and transparent about where data come from and about the uncertainties around them.”
Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation concluded:
“OSR’s focus over the next year will be to prioritise projects which improve public understanding of matters of greatest public interest. The report highlights where producers of statistics should focus to achieve this: on intelligent transparency, data linkage, collaboration and analytical leadership.”
Sir Robert Chote, the newly appointed Chair of the UK Statistics Authority reflects on our State of the Statistical System 2021/22 report, and why he wanted to take on the role of Chair.