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GSS > About us > Support for the GSS

Support for the GSS

The Best Practice and Impact (BPI) division in the Office for National Statistics supports everyone in the Government Statistical Service (GSS) to improve government statistics.

Examples of things we can help with:

  • Making publications more user friendly.
  • Developing survey questions.
  • Developing quality assurance processes.
  • Comparing different statistics published on the same topic.
  • Methodology queries.
  • Sharing expertise.
  • Understanding the UK statistical system and the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Who makes up the Best Practice and Impact division?

  • Good Practice Team (GPT)
  • Quality Centre
  • Harmonisation Team
  • GSS Methodology Advisory Committee (GSS MAC)

So, what exactly do we do?

Set strategic direction

We develop GSS strategies to set direction across government. In 2019 we published the GSS Harmonisation Strategy and the GSS Quality Strategy.

We also publish National Statisticians Quality Reviews (NSQR) to help producers of statistics think strategically about changing data sources and technologies. In 2019 we published a highly praised NSQR on Privacy and Data Confidentiality Methods.

Finally, we played a key role in the development of the Connected Open Government Statistics (COGS) Project. This will lead the way in improving the dissemination of government statistics.

Share best practice

Across government many analysts are coming across the same problems and solving them independently. This is not an efficient way of working.

We aim to facilitate the sharing of best practice by:

Provide a consultancy service

The consultancy support we offer ranges from informal chats to structured work packages.

We can visit your department to provide you with guidance on any methodological, quality, presentation or harmonisation issue, free of charge.

There is also free methodological advice available via the GSS Methodological Advisory Committee.

We reviewed DfID’s overall approach to data quality and provided recommendations on how they might improve this. We provided guidance to help statisticians identify the quality of existing data sources.

Neil Jackson, the Chief Statistician for DfID, said of the consultancy project:

“The review was really helpful. We knew our approach needed refinement and having an external perspective was really useful. We have some good suggestions to take on board and look forward to continue working with the Best Practice and Impact Division through the secondment to drive the improvement of our results data.”

Build capability

We provide free training and support to government departments and their arms-length bodies. We also train policy professionals to help them use and understand government statistics. We trained over 2,500 people in 2018.

Find out more about the available training courses and workshops.

“Perhaps the best two hours of training I have ever had in my civil service career. Interactive and truly facilitative – rather than telling us what to do, eliciting responses from us first and getting us to work it out. Brilliant.”

Feedback from a fast streamer at the Policy Profession Basecamp session on statistics.

Other ways we build capability:

Create tools, guidance and standards

We provide guidance documents and policies to support statistical producers on a range of topics.

One main area of guidance is our set of harmonised principles.  These cover a wide range of topics and can help you adopt best practice in data collection to ensure data collected is comparable.

After direction from central government, consultation, workshops and testing with key stakeholders, we published the interim GSS harmonised principles to measure loneliness. These will standardise the way loneliness is measured across the GSS, improving comparability. These principles will be used in major studies to inform future policy.

Monitor GSS Performance

We run workshops to review and suggest improvements for statistical releases (these are sometimes called “scrums”).  We draw on expertise from across the GSS to provide constructive feedback on presentation, quality, and harmonisation.

If you would like to put a statistical release forward for review, please email gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk

If you would like to take part in one of these workshops, they are advertised on the events page.

“The scrum was really helpful. We knew our report needed a refresh and having some external feedback was really useful.”

Feedback from the Ministry of Defence following a workshop organised by BPI.

Any questions?

If you would like to know more about anything mentioned on this page email: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.