Development approach

The overall goal is to develop official statistics that serve the public good and are produced following the standards of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

To be published as official statistics in development, the statistics must be of sufficient trustworthiness, quality and value to be able to be used appropriately, even with some clear limitations.

Quality tends to be the central area of concern – producers should be satisfied that the statistics are a meaningful estimate of the subject being measured. If they are not, the figures from the development should be published as a methodological research output (and so are not official statistics), or the development and production should stop.

Where the statistics are useful and meaningful, however, and there is the potential to improve the quality, the development should continue to try and realise it. These decisions should be made under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics.

Openness and transparency about the development, the decision-making process and the nature of the evaluation is important. It is essential for the effective and timely completion of the statistics development that a plan is used that makes clear the points at which evaluation will be conducted and shared with users.

When planning to produce and publish official statistics in development, it may be helpful to describe the development in terms of who, why, what, and when.


Producers should be clear about who is carrying out the development and testing. They should also be clear about how they will involve users and method or topic experts in the process, and work to get their active involvement.


Producers should help users understand the breadth of the development, why it is needed and important – the potential value that the new or re-developed statistics may offer. Thinking about the public interest profile will be helpful.


Producers should be specific in setting out the scope and nature of the development. They should also be clear about the criteria being used to decide whether the statistics are of sufficient quality and how they will determine that the statistics meet users’ needs – whether it is best to publish a research output or an official statistic in development. Producers should be clear on what can be achieved with the available resources.


An essential element of developing official statistics is that the process is timebound. This means that producers should set out the timeframe that they expect the development to run, giving a clear idea of expected milestones. It may be that the development runs for months or even several years – it is important that the likely period of development is set out.

As evaluation proceeds, it may be the case that the plan needs to be revised. Again, being open about changes to the plan is important and helps maintain user confidence in the statistics and the producers.

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