The Royal Statistical Society welcomes the publication of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) report on the governance of official statistics. The RSS believes the report could make a significant contribution to strengthening the statistical system.
In particular, the report calls for:
- The ending of pre-release access to statistics for ministers
- Better understanding of the use of statistics, identification of data gaps, quicker responses to emerging needs, and the development of a strategy for engaging users
- Demonstration of greater independence from key stakeholders
- Stronger governance of the Government Statistical Service
- A stronger lead on data science and ethics
These recommendations are in line with the evidence provided by the RSS to the inquiry in February and it strongly supports them.
Although a headline call from the report is for a change in legislation to split out the production and regulation functions of the Statistics Authority, in practice the Committee recognises that there is little chance of legislative change in this area, and so it is correct to focus on ways to improve the system through non-legislative means.
Stephen Penneck, chair of the RSS National Statistics Advisory Group, said: 'We are pleased that the Committee has responded positively to many of the concerns put forward by the Society and others, and look forward to the Government’s response.
'Although the Committee calls for splitting out the regulation and production functions of the UK Statistics Authority, in practice the MPs are realistic that there is little chance of legislative change in the near term so they are right to recognise that improvements must be made through non-legislative means. The report will help a new incoming National Statistician to shape the next UKSA strategy to help give the nation the official statistics we deserve.
'In short, this is a very thorough and valuable report, which the RSS warmly welcomes. We’re now looking forward to giving it the more detailed consideration that it deserves.'