Application of alternative release times

Process to obtain an alternative release time

Heads of Profession for Statistics/lead officials should write to the Director General for Regulation requesting permission for an alternative time of release to be adopted for a specific set of official statistics – to be pre-announced and applied consistently going forward. 

In making the request, the producer should outline how it has considered the public good served by the statistics, particularly in relation to user need, independence, transparency and orderliness of release. 

The Director General for Regulation will consider the application in relation to the public good served through enabling the alternative release time, taking into account evidence of the benefit to users around release and accessibility, and how the producer intends to ensure independence, transparency and orderliness in the release of the statistics.  

OSR will maintain a list of alternative release time approvals on its website. Producers should make clear the timing of release in their statistics announcements.

Application flow chart for an alternative release time

Step 1

A statistics producer identifies that an alternative release time will better able some statistics to serve the public good

Step 2

The Head of Profession for Statistics (HoP) reviews the public good case, considering how an alternative release time will meet user needs and protect the independence, transparency, and orderliness of the statistics release

Step 3

The HoP sends an outline of the public good case requesting an alternative release time to the Director General for Regulation (DGR) via

Step 4

The appropriate OSR domain team reviews the case, contacting the HoP if any further clarification is required, and submits the applications to the DGR

Step 5

The DGR reviews the case and may either approve or reject the application, setting out the reasons for the decision in writing to the HoP

Step 6

OSR publishes the finding in the ART table on its website

Step 7

If the ART is granted, the producer should then inform users (explaining the decision), and update the release calendar, etc. before they start publishing at the ART

Step 8

Further evidence may be submitted by the producer or other party in support or against an ART request and will be considered by OSR

Step 9

OSR will conduct annual reviews of the ART list, to confirm ongoing compliance with the Code

Rejection of an alternative release time request

Where the producer has not provided sufficient grounds of the public good being served through the exceptional release, the Director General for Regulation will refuse the request. 

The case must address user need, transparency, independence and orderliness – a failure to achieve one of these areas would lead to a refusal, for example: 

  • User need: No effort has been made to engage users in understanding their needs and views about the time of release or a lack of evidence on why the time of release will enhance their use
  • Transparency: Where the producer fails to approach the release in a transparent manner but is instead opaque about the rationale for the preferred release time
  • Independence: Where pressure has been applied internally for an alternative release time to coincide with a ministerial activity or statement
  • Orderliness: Where the release approach does not take due account of burdens imposed on staff or other statistics producers

Any queries about the Director General’s decision can be raised with OSR. We are always open to further consideration, representations, and evidence. This offer is to the producer requesting the alternative time, as well as to others affected such as other producers, users, and stakeholders. Correspondence can be sent to

Converting a release time exemption into an alternative release time

We will convert exemptions granted during the COVID-19 pandemic to become an alternative release time when the Code is updated on 5 May 2022. Producers of these statistics should consider whether they still need to publish the statistics at a time other than 9.30am. They should inform the Office for Statistics Regulation if the alternative release time is not needed or if different release arrangements are desired to those in the exemption.

Consistent release practice and one-off exceptions

It is in line with the revised Practice 3.6 for producers to request a one-off alternative release time due to exceptional circumstances, to ensure the public good is best served. For example, if a bank holiday interrupts the planned production and or publication schedule of statistics. As with all alternative release times, the change should be announced in advance.

In any circumstances where a head of profession believes it is in the public interest to publish at an alternative time, they are welcome to contact OSR to discuss whether a temporary ART would be appropriate.

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