2. Demonstrate transparency and integrity



Trustworthiness (T)      Value (V)


Look out for these letters throughout this section for indicators of the ‘Think TQV’ approach

Demonstrating transparency and analytical integrity builds public trust and confidence in how analytical evidence is produced and used across government, and crucially, in the policies and wider decisions that are based on that evidence. Analytical leadership is therefore supported when everyone recognises the value of robust analytical evidence and works professionally and effectively to communicate its insights effectively and uphold its integrity.

To demonstrate this means viewing government analysis as an essential government asset, and a public asset when published (V); being transparent (T) about what and how analytical evidence is used (V) in policy-making and other government decisions; publishing analytical evidence used to inform policy decisions to support public accountability and evaluation whenever possible, and every time government analysis is used or quoted publicly; communicating analysis effectively; and demonstrating integrity by challenging the misuse or misinterpretation of analytical evidence where necessary (T), including by correcting the public record.

Our conversations uncovered three important aspects in relation to demonstrating transparency and integrity. These include the need to:

  1. Be transparent about the evidence used;
  2. Lead through the effective communication of evidence;
  3. Challenge evidence misrepresentation and misuse.

Be transparent about the evidence used

Extract from Declaration on Government reform:

“We must do better at making our data available to all so that we can be more effectively held to account.”

Data transparency and integrity should be considered throughout the policy life cycle, with analytical work feeding into policy in a transparent way and clear separation between impartial analytical insights and policy decisions, political positions and communications (T). Publishing clear, impartial insights (V) on what analyses do or do not show, in meaningful ways for different audiences, helps support user understanding, appropriate interpretation and use of the evidence.

Government should publish its analytical evidence to support public accountability wherever possible, and every time analysis is used or quoted publicly. OSR’s guidance on Intelligent Transparency highlights principles that all those working in government should seek to follow, as a minimum, in order to maintain public confidence when analytical evidence that informs government decisions is publicly quoted or used. Intelligent Transparency is supported by three principles:

  1. Ensure equality of access – Data used by government in the public domain should be made available to everyone in an accessible and timely way.
  2. Enhance understanding – Sources for figures should be cited and appropriate explanations of context, including strengths and limitations, should be communicated clearly alongside figures.
  3. Enable independent decision-making and leadership – Decisions about the publication of statistics and data, such as content and timing, should be independent of political and policy influences, to support public confidence in the evidence base.

The Government Office for Science has published Guidance to implement the Concordat to Support Research Integrity within Government. The Concordat is a national framework for good research and its governance. Research integrity means upholding the highest standards in research, including legal, ethical and professional standards; and the right environment and processes to support this.

The Guidance requires government to be as open and transparent as possible with publicly funded research, which should be free to access, wherever possible, released promptly and in a way that promotes public trust. Government departments are required to publish annual statements setting out how they met the requirements of the Guidance. Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers, Directors of Analysis and Analysis Heads of Profession have a role in implementing the Concordat for research conducted or commissioned by their departments. Applying the Concordat will lead to better quality research, knowledge growth and a stronger evidence base to support decision-making and to serve the wider public good.

The Welsh Government has strict protocols for the pre-announcement and publication its research and an orderly research publication culture. The protocols are based on five principles that Welsh Ministers sign up to:

  1. New policies or programmes consider the need of evaluation from the outset;
  2. Internal evidence planning focuses on providing the evidence to support the Government’s strategic priorities;
  3. Research is published according to the Government Social Research publication protocol;
  4. Ministers are briefed on proposed responses to the recommendations for every evaluation;
  5. Explicit value for money analysis is included in evaluations where possible.

These approaches help support integrity, transparency and public confidence in Welsh Government research.

Lead through the effective communication of evidence

Extract from Declaration on Government reform:

“We will make data visualisation a common tool to ensure Ministers and officials understand in real time the latest evidence underpinning decisions. We will ensure Ministers receive training in how to assess evidence, monitor delivery, and work effectively with Civil Service colleagues.”

For analysis to effectively inform policy and decision-making, it is essential that analysts are capable (T) of communicating the key messages of their work, as well as relevant limitations, caveats and uncertainty, to non-analysts. Understanding the needs of the audience (V) is crucial to support the clear and accurate communication of key messages, as well as essential information on limitations and uncertainty.

The ONS Data Science Campus takes applications from public sector employees for its Data Science and Visualisation Accelerator programmes. The Accelerator is a skills-building mentoring programme that gives analysts from across the public sector the opportunity to develop their data science or data visualisation skills.

As well as being matched with a mentor, the 12-week programme gives participants access to the ONS Learning Hub, enabling them to complete courses that support their work on data science and data visualisation projects they choose themselves, and to learn new skills, embed these within their organisations and connect with peers. Since 2015, the programme has supported more than 400 public sector analysts from over 100 organisations to build data science skills through a wide range of projects.

The Demographic and Vital Events Statistics team at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) worked on the production of a two-part BBC Scotland documentary called “Who lives in Scotland?”.

The team worked with television producers for six months to refine the tone and ensure the accuracy of the broadcast, which highlighted the importance of analysis in informing decisions related to everyday life. They identified the most important stories on the subject, the statistics that underpin them, and the best ways to present and explain them to a general audience. They also worked with visualisation experts to ensure all visuals were accessible to everyone and complemented the narrative. Perhaps most significantly, NRS statisticians were filmed as experts for the documentary, talking about their data and what it shows.

The documentary was very successful and helped develop stronger links with the media and trust in analysis. The programme was aired during Prime Time on BBC Scotland and was the most-watched show at 9pm on 24 October 2022.

Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) analysts make complex concepts easy to understand by the public, the Scottish Parliament, and other stakeholders. The SFC considers different users when communicating its forecasts and tailors its outputs accordingly. Although a lot of the SFC’s work is complex and technical, analysts go to extra effort to present the information in clear and accessible ways using graphs, infographics, videos, and visual guides targeted at members of the Scottish Parliament and the general public. It publishes explainers on different topics and its longer forecast reports have accessible upfront summaries. The Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Administration Committee has expressed positive comments about the SFC’s topic explainers.

The SFC is open and transparent about the methods and assumptions used in its forecasts, for example it regularly publishes occasional papers with an accessible introduction targeted at non-expert users and a technical section for expert users. The SFC also makes its data available to all types of users, which is well received.

Each of its main publications is accompanied by a media release where the SFC provides the key points from the publication and delivers a media presentation direct to journalists to ensure their appropriate interpretation. This means that its analysis is generally accurately reported in the media. As well as through a strong media profile, the SFC also supports wider public understanding by directly engaging with stakeholders through webinars and social media activity.

Challenge evidence misrepresentation and misuse

Demonstrating analytical leadership means that everyone works to uphold the integrity of analytical evidence and, at all levels of an organisation, stand up for the accurate use and representation (V) of evidence.

Ensuring the accurate use and representation of evidence requires involving the right professionals (T) in the preparation of data communications to prevent misuse in the first place but also challenging (T) and calling out misuse or misinterpretation and correcting inaccuracies in the public record, where necessary.

The Scottish Parliament’s Independent Information Centre (SPICe) provides impartial, factual information and analysis to Members in support of Scottish Parliament parliamentary business. SPICe published a blog on 29 July 2022, which brought clarity to claims made by Scottish Government that it had allocated £3 billion in 2022/23 to help with the cost-of-living crisis. While the press release listed the contributing policies, it lacked clarity on how those policies were selected for inclusion and how much of the funding was newly allocated in 2022/23.

SPICe’s blog set out a clear timeline of when the contributing policies were implemented. The timeline highlighted that some of the policies included in the announcement predated the cost-of-living crisis and that the level of new funding allocated in the 2022/23 financial year would be closer to £490 million. Taking a transparent and clear approach supports public confidence in analysis and the organisations that produce them, and minimises the risk of misinterpretation.

The PROVE framework by the Government Communication Service is part of the RESIST 2 Counter-disinformation toolkit. It has been developed and tested by researchers to ensure effective evidence-based communications.

PROVE can be used to develop clear, informative messaging using scientific evidence to explain nuance and uncertainty around complex issues.

PROVE stands for:

  • Pre-bunk: anticipate mis- and disinformation through media monitoring and risk assessment and prepare to pre-emptively warn the public
  • Reliably Inform: trust is built by informing openly rather than persuading. This means ensuring that information reflects expertise, honesty, and good intentions.
  • Offer balance: do not skew or ignore evidence, but rather ensure balance in how evidence is presented
  • Verify quality: be open about the quality of the underlying evidence so that the credibility of the information is clear
  • Explain uncertainty: disclose any uncertainties, gaps and risks with the current evidence.

PROVE is not supposed to advocate or persuade audiences, only inform them. It aims to ‘inoculate’ people against potential mis- and disinformation. Inoculation helps to strengthen resilience by informing the public about an issue at risk of false or misleading information, preparing them, and improving their ability to engage with the content.

Experiments have shown that audiences find PROVE content more engaging, more trustworthy, and more interesting, than other content.

All Members of Parliament should soon be able to transparently correct the official public record if they make a statement with an inadvertent error in the House of Commons. This procedure, which does not apply only to confirming the correct interpretation of analytical evidence, is currently only available to Ministers.

Full Fact led a campaign calling for the change. It found that the previous mechanisms for non-Ministerial MPs to correct the record were “not fit for purpose”. There was a lack of a formal mechanism for members of the official opposition and backbench MPs to correct the record, and there was no clear way to identify and link an original misstatement to a correction on Hansard. The House of Commons Procedure Committee held an inquiry into the issue, releasing its recommendations in June 2023. The recommendations were designed to improve the clarity and transparency of corrections, and are:

  1. Extending the corrections process to all MPs;
  2. Improving the visibility of how MP corrections appear on Hansard;
  3. Creating a new page for people to find corrections on Parliament’s website.

Following a vote by MPs to accept the recommendations, they are expected to be implemented from April 2024.

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