Comparison with other international quality assessment frameworks

As noted throughout this document, many of the indicators that we have chosen for our quality assessment framework are similar to indicators in the IMF DQAF and the ESS QAF. This gives us confidence that our framework is sufficient to assess the quality of economic statistics in the UK. However, in reviewing the international frameworks, there are some indicators that we have chosen not to include. Predominantly, this is where we believe that the indicators relate to the perception of quality rather than contributing to ensuring quality itself. In most cases, there are practices within the Trustworthiness and Value pillars of the Code that cover the same concepts which align with these indicators. This section describes the main themes of the indicators that we have chosen not to include in our quality assessment framework.

Professional Independence

Both the IMF DQAF and ESS QAF have principles and indicators around the independence of statistical production. These include indicators such as the ESS QAF indicator 1.1, ‘The independence of the National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat from political and other external interference in developing, producing and disseminating statistics is specified in law and assured for other statistical authorities’, and the IMF DQAF indicator 1.1.1, ‘Statistics are produced on an impartial basis’. The Code includes a principle under the Trustworthiness pillar (T2): independent decision making, which includes similar practices. We, in the UK, have legislation which ensures the independent production of statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics, the recognised national statistical institute of the UK, and structures in place to safeguard the statistics produced by government departments.  Adherence to this legislation is assessed as part of our broader regulatory work. Therefore, in the UK these factors around independence are more closely related to the perception of quality than to quality itself, and we have chosen not to include such indicators in this quality assessment framework.

Statistical confidentiality

Both the IMF DQAF and ESS QAF include principles and indicators around data being kept confidential and being used solely for statistical purposes. This includes indicators such as indicator 5.1 in the ESS QAF, which states that ‘Statistical confidentiality is guaranteed in law’. The Code also includes a principle around data governance which is aligned with the practices in the international frameworks. Statistical confidentiality is important to quality due to the need to ensure that there is trust in how statistics producers use data. This helps to ensure that people and businesses respond to surveys and are willing for their data to be used. There would be large effects on quality if this trust is broken. However, we have chosen not to include statistical confidentiality in our quality assessment framework. This is because confidentiality itself does not ensure or improve quality. We recognise that constraints relating to confidentiality may affect granularity or accuracy and have made reference to this in indicator 4.6. We are focussing our assessments on the indicators that help to ensure or improve quality.

Cost of statistics

The ESS QAF includes indicators around the cost of the statistics being commensurate with needs and procedures existing to assess and justify demands for new statistics against costs. Cost will often interact with quality in that there needs to be a balance between cost and quality. The Code does not explicitly mention cost, and we have chosen not to include it in our quality assessment framework. The Code does mention efficiency and proportionality, however, and we have reflected this through indicators around minimising burden and reusing data. We have also included indicators around there being sufficient resources and clear prioritisation. Adherence to these indicators should also help ensure that cost is minimised and use of resources are maximised.

Equal access and presentation of statistics

The IMF DQAF includes several indicators around equal access to statistics, the pre-announcing of statistics and the presentation of statistics and availability of statistics. The ESS QAF also includes principle 15, ‘Accessibility and Clarity. European Statistics are presented in a clear and understandable form, released in a suitable and convenient manner, available and accessible on an impartial basis with supporting metadata and guidance.’ These types of indicators are included in practices within the Trustworthiness and Value pillars of the Code.  As with independence and statistical confidentiality, these practices contribute to the perception of quality of statistics and trust in the organisations that produce them. We have not included these indicators in the framework explicitly.

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