Official Statistics (OS)
This guidance sets out the essential characteristics of official statistics and published management information. It can be used by statistics producers to guide statistical practice within their organisation and as they review outputs.
What do we mean by ‘Official statistics’ (OS)
OS are statistics produced by Crown bodies, as well as by other organisations listed within an Official Statistics Order on behalf of the UK government or devolved administrations. OS provide a factual basis for assessment and decisions on economic, social and environmental issues at all levels of society.
OS are based on data sources and methods that are appropriate for their intended use. OS can use management information (MI) as a data source.
Individual or multiple outputs can be released within a statistical topic as a suite of information and can include a narrative to describe the important figures. OS should be accompanied by supporting explanatory material.
Producers and publishers must be open about the limitations of OS. This includes highlighting where OS are provisional because of coverage and completeness issues.
Why OS are produced and published
OS have a societal focus. They are routinely produced and published to meet the public interest for statistics:
- that concentrate on important matters about the economy, society, or the environment
- about the work and performance of government
Who produces and publishes OS
Professional analysts produce and publish OS.
A Chief Statistician (CS) or Head of Profession (HoP) for statistics is accountable for ensuring the Code of Practice for Statistics is followed. In their appointment, the HoP/CS has been granted authority to act for the Minister in taking independent statistical decisions for the organisation on matters related to official statistics. As such, the HoP/CS is responsible for deciding whether MI can be used as a source for official statistics and whether some statistics are official statistics.
When OS are released
OS are pre-announced and released as soon as they reasonably can be. Producers and publishers of OS must balance the timeliness of their releases alongside the need for accuracy and quality to best meet user needs.
A range of outputs are released according to availability of data and resource.
OS are often released on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, although more rapid and frequent release is becoming more common.