Quality Assurance of Administrative Data (QAAD) – Setting the standard

30 January 2015
Last updated:
15 December 2022


This publication was updated in December 2022 to migrate the contents to HTML and improve accessibility.


On 31 July 2014 the UK Statistics Authority published an Exposure Draft report Quality Assurance and Audit Arrangements for Administrative Data.

This report presents the Authority’s regulatory standard that it will use to assess statistics derived from administrative sources against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It is published alongside the Administrative Data Quality Assurance Toolkit.

The Authority will release further supporting information to guide both statistical producers and non-statistical officials in using administrative data for official statistics:

  • Emerging case studies of good practice
  • Guidance for policymakers when using statistics
  • Response to consultation

This regulatory standard confirms the quality assurance arrangements that are required for statistics that are compiled using administrative data to comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. The Administrative Data Quality Assurance Toolkit (QA Toolkit) is the mechanism that the Authority will use to determine compliance. The Toolkit is built around the Quality Assurance Matrix (QA Matrix) which presents the levels of assurance for four areas of practice related to the quality assurance of official statistics and of the administrative data used to produce them.

Our assessors will:

  • Provisionally determine their view of the appropriate level of assurance required for a set of statistics.
  • Request from statistical producers:
    1. an explanation of their judgments of the required level of assurance for a set of statistics;
    2. evidence to support the rationale for these decisions;
    3. evidence of the actions, and the rationale for deciding upon those actions, that the producer has taken to achieve compliance with the chosen level of assurance; and
    4. evidence which demonstrates that the statistical producer has embedded practices for keeping its quality assurance arrangements under review.
  • Identify whether the submitted evidence complies with the Code of Practice.
  • For instances of non-compliance, require statistical producers to take action to meet the standard of the Code of Practice.

This paper sets out the basis of the QA Toolkit in relation to the Code of Practice. It also addresses a number of the issues raised by respondents to the Exposure Draft, in relation to the definition and nature of administrative data, the need for repeated and ongoing evaluation of data quality, the complex nature of data supply relationships, and the role of systematic external audit.

The QA Toolkit recognises that a proportionate approach is appropriate, whereby some statistics will need greater levels of assurance than others. The levels can be determined by an evaluation of: (i) the likelihood of quality concerns arising in the administrative data that may affect the quality of the statistics; and (ii) the nature of the public interest served by the statistics.

The Code of Practice requires statistical producers to provide explanatory information to help users understand the strengths and limitations of official statistics in relation to their use. Producers need to ensure that they have a good appreciation of the impact of the data collection processes on the statistics and that they communicate these issues to those who use the statistics. It is important to critique the data at each stage of the statistical production process.

The Authority encourages statistical producers to use this Toolkit routinely as part of their analysis and monitoring of administrative data systems, and to share their findings with users.

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