Futureproofing the Code of Practice for Statistics: Call for evidence

18 September 2023
Last updated:
22 February 2024


The call to evidence is now closed. This document is intended for reference purposes only.

The second edition of the Code of Practice for Statistics was released in February 2018. It established a framework for the standards of statistics production grounded on three core principles or ‘pillars’:

  • Trustworthiness – confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data
  • Quality – data and methods that produce assured statistics
  • Value – statistics that support society’s needs for information

Since that time the Code has been firmly embedded into the work of official statisticians and by a community of practitioners beyond official statistics. OSR’s review of the National Statistics designation heard from heads of profession for statistics and analysts about how the Code guides their work. The voluntary application of the Code has grown steadily, with now more than 30 organisations represented in our list of adopters. The Code has proved itself a valuable tool to guide decision-making.

In setting out the reasons for producing a second edition of the Code of Practice its introduction highlighted the changing landscape of statistics and data – with more abundant data used in ever more sophisticated ways. This changing environment has continued to evolve, arguably in more complex ways.

Our review, The State of the Statistics System, has highlighted how well over recent years producers have responded to urgent needs for data and statistics and have continued to innovate in challenging circumstances – such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, declining response rates, sample biases, and data privacy concerns can have a significant impact on the quality of statistics. In a wider landscape of technological advances, statistics need to remain relevant, accurate and reliable – the increasing use of new and alternative data sources and advances in technology are opportunities for the statistical system to embrace.

The role of the Code is to provide a clear steer for those producing statistics on the standards to be applied to ensure that statistics command public confidence. We would like to hear from stakeholders across a wide range of settings on their thoughts about the suitability of the Code and on how it can be adapted to meet the challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

As well as this written call for evidence, we are hosting a series of public events over the coming months to help challenge our thinking and we encourage you to join in. We are inviting influential thinkers about data and statistics to share their thoughts in three panel discussions which look further into aspects of the changing landscape:

  • 26 September, 11am-12.30pm: In the light of concerns about survey response rates, use of personal data, and wider perceptions of the loss of trust in institutions, what can be done to manage risks to data quality?
  • 18 October, 11am-12.30pm: What are the key ethical issues in the era of AI: how do we balance serving the public good with the potential for individualised harms?
  • 23 November, 1-2.30pm: In an age that demands real-time data and increasing automation, how can official statistics remain relevant?

More information about the event series, and how to sign up, is available through our Code Review webpage.

This call for evidence has two main parts. The first gathers views about the Code of Practice and any ways it can be strengthened. This is the primary focus of this call for evidence and is what will drive our thinking and any plans for future changes to the Code itself. The second part seeks your views on two related OSR projects: our review of the National Statistics designation and our Voluntary Application scheme. Please give as much information as you would like to provide in the response boxes.

There is an opportunity at the end to tell us anything else you would like to share and to give some background information. We provide further information about the call for evidence and directions on how to respond in the annex.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions.

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