Unlocking the value of data through onward sharing

About this guide

We have written this guidance to increase awareness among statistics producers and users that the principles of the Code of Practice extend beyond statistics production to data sharing and access. We outline practices and processes that uphold these principles. Specific guidance about how to meet these expectations is signposted where available.

The central purpose for all official statistics producers is serving the public good through the provision of data and statistics. This obligation is reflected in the principles of the Code of Practice for Statistics which requires statistics producers to commit to, and to promote, the safe onward access to the data used as the basis for producing official statistics. These may include, for example, data from the census, population and business surveys, as well as administrative records.

This guidance is a companion to our guidance on data governance: building confidence in the handling and use of data, which supports data sharing for the public good. It is aimed at Heads of Profession for Statistics and analysts working in producer bodies with an interest in data linkage and sharing.

“Data is more useful when more people can access and use it. It is most useful when it can be joined together. Data that is inaccessible – or where access takes so long it is rendered irrelevant – is of limited utility. Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute[1]

[1] https://osr.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/odi-data-blog/

Guidance for producers when making changes to statistical methods

About this guide

This guide sets out examples of the principles in the Code of Practice that producers need to adhere to in order to remain code compliant when making changes to statistical methods. It also includes examples of the kinds of materials that can be used to help document this adherence. An important decision will be on the scale and nature of the changes that are being considered and to be proportionate in applying these principles – you need to determine the materiality of the change. Identify if there are fundamental changes to the methods that could affect the statistics – these will need to be understood and explained to users.


Thinking about quality when producing statistics

Statistics should be produced to a level of quality that meets users’ needs, and quality assurance (QA) should be proportionate to the nature of the quality issues and the importance of the statistics in serving the public good.

In this guide we provide some questions that analysts producing statistics can use in considering quality at each stage of production. This list is adapted from a series of questions we asked teams during our review of the principles and processes underpinning the quality of HMRC’s official statistics, and draws on QAAD Questions which help producers find out about administrative data.

This quality guide is not a checklist but is designed to be used alongside your own organisation’s guidance, as well as alongside external resources – take a look at the list at the end. GSS guidance on best statistical practice for quality assurance is available on the Policy and Guidance Hub.

OSR Review of approaches to addressing weaknesses in the RPI

In OSR’s Regulatory Work Programme for 2019 to 2020 in respect to the economy theme,  among our priorities for the year is regulatory work on inflation statistics. We cited work arising from any change to the Authority’s approach to the RPI and to the measurement of Owner Occupiers’ Housing Costs within ONS’s CPIH statistics.  Following a request from the RPI/CPI user group that OSR consider the proposed changes to the RPI with respect to the Code of Practice for Statistics, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, wrote to the user group. OSR’s response to the concerns of the user group can be found here in the annex to Sir David Norgrove’s letter. OSR expects to publish the findings from its review of ONS’s recent work on CPIH statistics in March 2020.

Experimental statistics – official statistics in development

About this guidance

This guide sets out the Office for Statistics Regulation’s expectations regarding the production and handling of experimental statistics, a subset of official statistics going through development and evaluation, in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The Code of Practice encourages innovation and improvement and highlights the need for National Statistics and other official statistics to remain relevant for use, to provide a dynamic public service.

Regulatory guidance – Publishing official statistics and National Statistics

Updated December 2018: This document has been updated to clarify the section ‘Sharing official statistics and other statistics prior to release’.

Answers to questions we have received about publishing official statistics in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

If you have any questions you would like answered, please email the regulation team.

Topics covered:

  • Pre-announcing the release of statistics
  • Labeling the status of the statistics
  • Sharing official statistics and other statistics prior to release
  • Publishing ad-hoc statistics releases
  • Revisions and corrections

Regulatory guidance – Building confidence in the handling and use of data

This guide provides some further insight for statistics producers into the principle T6 Data Governance when handling data to produce and publish official statistics, and when making that data available to external users, in ways that are transparent and accountable (see page 3). It also draws on our findings from a review of the UK statistics system’s ability to provide greater insight to users via linked data: joining up data for better statistics. We have summarised lessons from this review (on pages 4 and 5), to give examples of the actions that producers can take to maximise the potential of data when producing official statistics. They illustrate practices that we look for when assessing compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

UPDATED 22 October 2018: the list of relevant legislation has been extended to include the Statistics of Trade and Employment (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (page 3).