A simpler way to report concerns under the Code of Practice for Statistics
We’ve changed the way that the GSS reports concerns under the Code of Practice for Statistics. We’ve made the process simpler and more flexible.
Why we’ve made changes to the process
Mistakes happen. Statistics are sometimes published at the wrong time. People sometimes share embargoed numbers more widely than they should have done. Cases like this can be serious if critical numbers are late, pre-release data are shared widely when they should not be, or there is unauthorised access to data. But fortunately serious problems are rare.
In the past many of you will have had to report fairly minor concerns as formal ‘breaches’ of the Code of Practice for Statistics. You probably spoke to your Head of Profession, to talk about the problem and why things went wrong. You may have shared your thoughts about how you could stop the same thing happening again.
The last part of the process probably involved filling in a form to explain what happened. You might also have written details about the next actions you were going to take. You would have sent this form to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA).
The old ‘breach reporting’ process was very bureaucratic. It focused on a small number of practices in the Code of Practice about releasing statistics. Those issues are very important. But it often took too long to prepare reports for each minor issue. Few people saw the reports, which meant that the work needed to produce them was hard to justify.
What matters most here is that:
- statistical teams acknowledge and learn from their mistakes
- we support other colleagues, like members of press teams, so they understand why it’s important to follow the Code of Practice to promote trustworthiness, quality and public value
- we are honest and open about problems and how they affect statistics, so that our users have confidence in our numbers
The new process is more targeted
The new process only involves the UKSA when there’s a major concern and a real risk to the trustworthiness of the statistics system. We will continue to offer support with these complex cases, as we have always done.
The new process allows producer teams to identify and deal directly with minor concerns. This means they can address problems in ways that are suitable for the local situation. The UKSA can then provide a lighter advisory or regulatory service as needed.