Assessment and Compliance Checks: A guide for Statistics Producers

1 July 2020
Last updated:
14 December 2022


We assess official statistics against the Code of Practice, and if they comply in full with the Code, designate them as National Statistics. Where official statistics do not maintain the high standards expected by the Code, acting on the Office for Statistics Regulation’s advice, the Statistics Authority can remove their National Statistics status (see the Register of De-designations). In some cases, National Statistics status will be removed after a producer approaches us when its statistics have temporarily fallen below expected standards – for example through error or during a change in methods. In other cases, removal follows a fuller assessment, which has resulted in a range of actions for the producer body to implement before National Statistics status can be reinstated.

The full assessment process is described below, setting out what we require of statistics producers.

The assessment process

We have sought to make the assessment process less burdensome to statistics producers by changing the way that we ask for evidence to be provided. We see our meetings and conversations with you as the most important opportunities to fully understand your practices. We also have a suggested document list, that indicates the kind of written material that producers often have available. We ask producers at the start of the process to forward relevant material that is already available (see Annex).

We do not want producers to write anything specifically for the assessment. It may be that a gap is found in the material available, but we will discuss through the assessment what could helpfully be done as part of responding to the assessment findings. We would normally recommend incorporating the improvements within your ongoing activities, rather than adding additional load at the time of the assessment.

Overview of the Assessment Process

Stages involving the producer team are in dark blue shading and stages for the regulatory team in light blue shading.

A flowchart detailing the assessment process steps. The steps are: OSR strategic planning meeting, Kick-off contact, Regulatory team's user/supplier engagement, Producer sends document list to regulatory team, First evidence meeting, Evidence review, OSR's QA meeting, Second evidence meeting, Draft assessment report, Producer review of assessment report, Regulation Committee sign-off & publication of AR, Meeting requirements action plan, Producer updates/ response to OSR about actions, Confirmation of designation

Our Assessment Programme Lead, or domain lead will discuss with the statistics producer’s Head of Profession for Statistics the timing and scope of an assessment as part of our business planning cycle. This will include the range of statistics to be included and broad timings. They will discuss the reasons for suggesting the assessment, such as a request from the producer, a concern raised through casework correspondence received by OSR or perhaps the length of time since the last assessment.

A regulatory team in OSR will be assigned the assessment and they in turn will contact the lead statistician to discuss the assessment – the timing, scope and process. If the producer is new to assessment we may offer an initial meeting to give you a better understanding of assessment and its goals, ensuring public confidence in the statistics through meeting the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value.

Evidence gathering

Vital to our assessment is hearing the views of users and suppliers. We ask producers to send us a list of known contacts to supplement the Regulatory Team’s own understanding of users and potential users that we can approach, to hear their experiences and comments. This occurs at the start of the process so that we can immediately begin to contact users.

Our key tool for gathering documentary evidence is to ask you to provide links or files to the types of documents listed in our Document List, to illustrate your statistical practices. These can be user engagement plans, minutes of meetings, governance arrangements, method and quality information, statistical policy documents.

Just to be clear: the document list is indicative and it is not mandatory for you to provide every document in the list. Feel free to refer to any individual document as often as it applies but be sure to highlight the specific part of any document that relates to each entry.

We will arrange two evidence meetings. The first evidence meeting will be near the start of the assessment, after an initial review of the material forwarded to us. This is our main opportunity to explore with you how you put your statistics together, their context, the pressures you face and opportunities and plans for development etc. It gives us an opportunity to go through your statistical practices more fully and gain a better understanding.

We will review all the evidence and compile our Compliance Record which forms the basis of our assessment report. After an internal quality assurance review, we will hold a second evidence meeting when we will go through in more detail about areas of your practice. We will also discuss the next steps about the timing of the circulation of the draft assessment report and its publication.

We aim to let you know the areas for improvement as we go through the assessment, and particularly during the evidence meetings so that you can begin to address any compliance issues necessary. We can reflect your improvements in our assessment report should you implement changes during the period of the assessment report preparation. We will arrange a conversation with you to discuss our draft findings and recommendations, before sharing the draft assessment report with you.

Sign-off process of the Assessment report

Our report is cleared by the Assessment Programme Lead and the DG for Regulation before being submitted to the Regulation Committee – the group of Non-Executive Directors of the UK Statistics Authority that oversees the regulation activities on behalf of the Authority. We will keep you informed of any substantive changes during the sign-off stages. You can then let us know if you identify any issues with the changes made.

Addressing requirements

Experience to date has shown that the vast majority of assessments will have requirements – the areas for improvement required to demonstrate full compliance with the Code. These must be addressed – with evidence provided to us that demonstrates compliance. The assessment report will include a deadline for completing requirements. It is generally around three months. It is important that you bear this in mind during the course of the assessment and let us know whether you expect any difficulties in meeting such a deadline.

We have found that it is often beneficial to develop and publish an action plan of the steps you plan to take to meet the requirements. We can then discuss with you any issues we see in relation to compliance. We recommend that you work with the Government Statistical Service Good Practice Team if you want guidance around best statistical practice.

We are happy to meet with you after the assessment report has been published to discuss your plans for addressing requirements. We will also come back to you during the interval before the deadline to see how you are getting on. Feel free to contact us throughout the period if you would find that helpful.

Please write to us by the deadline given in the assessment report with your report on addressing the requirements, providing links or attaching evidence to demonstrate compliance. We don’t have a specific template for this response – you may like to check with your HoP’s office to see if there is a template that your organisation uses.

We will review the evidence and either feedback areas requiring additional clarification or will recommend to our Assessment Programme Lead that designation be confirmed. We will let you know the decision and if the recommendation can proceed to the Regulation Committee.

Confirmation as National Statistics

The confirmation decision is made by the Regulation Committee. It will be made on the recommendation of the DG for Regulation. A letter of designation will be sent by the DG to your HoP – this letter is published on our website alongside the assessment report.

Please contact us by emailing if you have any questions about compliance checks or assessments.

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