About the GSS

The Government Statistical Service

The GSS is a cross-government network, spread across a whole range of public bodies, including components of the devolved administrations and UK government departments. Led by the National Statistician, it includes statisticians, researchers, economists, analysts, operational delivery staff, IT specialists and other supporting roles. The GSS community works together to provide the statistical evidence base required by decision-makers, publishing around 2,000 sets of statistics each year, and providing professional advice and analysis to decision-makers. ONS has an important role at the heart of the GSS, providing guidance, support, standards and training.


The National Statistician

John Pullinger is the National Statistician and took up post on 1 July 2014. The National Statistician is the UK Statistics Authority’s and the Government’s principal adviser on official statistics. He is the Head of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) and, as the Authority’s Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary, is a member of the Board of the UK Statistics Authority.

The National Statistician is supported by three deputies:

  • The Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics
  • The Deputy National Statistician for Data Capability
  • The Deputy National Statistician for Population and Public Policy

More information is available about John’s career prior to his appointment and his roles and responsibilities on the UK Statistics Authority website.

You can get the latest updates from John on the National Statistician blog.


Central Policy Secretariat

The Central Policy Secretariat (CPS) helps staff across the GSS to work together with senior leaders to achieve shared priorities.

They provide support to the National Statistician, John Pullinger, and the three Deputy National Statisticians – Jonathan Athow, Heather Savory and Iain Bell – as well as to the top-level GSS committees including the National Statistics Executive Group, the GSS Heads of Profession meetings, and the Inter Administration Committee.



The Better Statistics, Better Decisions strategy sets out the collective mission of the GSS: to provide high quality statistics, analysis and advice to help Britain make better decisions. It sets out a vision for statistics where data is available real-time, we are digital by default, and the quality of our advice and insight earns us a seat at the table where the most important decisions are made. Released three years on from the launch of the strategy, the document BSBD@3 outlines the progress the GSS has made towards this mission.



The operation of the UK’s statistical system is governed by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Act provided for the creation of the UK Statistics Authority, with a statutory responsibility to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good.

The Act requires the Statistics Authority to adopt a Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Compliance with the Code is a statutory requirement on bodies that produce statistics that are designated as National Statistics through the Office for Statistics Regulation’s Assessment process.



The Statistics Act left unchanged the un-centralised nature of the UK official statistics system. Each government department that produces official statistics has a Head of Profession who is accountable to their departmental management for day to day delivery, but also has a professional accountability to the National Statistician.

The National Statistician has established a governance structure which helps guide decision making in the GSS. This is summarised in the diagram below.

Download (PDF, 192KB)

More detail on GSS governance is provided in the Governance Manual.