What is Quality?
The quality of a statistical product can be defined as the fitness for purpose of that product. More specifically, it is the fitness for purpose of that product regarding the following European Statistical System quality dimensions:
- Relevance is the degree to which a statistical product meets user needs in terms of content and coverage.
- Accuracy and Reliability is how close the estimated value in the output is to the true result.
- Timeliness and Punctuality describes the time between the date of publication and the date to which the data refers, and the time between the actual publication and the planned publication of a statistic.
- Accessibility and Clarity is the quality and sufficiency of metadata, illustrations and accompanying advice, and the quality and sufficiency of metadata, illustrations and accompanying advice.
- Coherence and Comparability is the degree to which data derived from different sources or methods, but that refers to the same topic, is similar, and the degree to which data can be compared over time and domain, for example, geographic level.
ONS Quality Centre
The ONS Quality Centre works with ONS and the wider GSS on all issues related to quality.
It is a centre of methodological expertise on statistical quality and respondent burden. The team manages, monitors and leads the development of initiatives at ONS as well as the wider GSS designed to assure, improve and report on the quality of our statistical products. Quality Centre also plays a role in promoting best practice across the GSS.
Survey Control Unit, which sits within Quality Centre, is responsible for measuring and monitoring respondent burden across the Government Statistical Service (GSS), which aligns with Principle 6 of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics: “Proportionate burden”.
The Survey Control & Compliance Unit (SCCU) aims to promote good survey practice, prevent poor-quality or unnecessary surveys and ensure that respondent load is measured and minimised.
We also maintain an Online List of Government Statistical Surveys (OLGSS) which provides up to date costs of the burden placed on respondents by survey.
Contact the Quality Centre for advice and support on:
- Managing quality, including quality assurance and quality improvement activities
- Reporting on quality and describing quality to the users of your statistics
- Measuring and reporting on respondent burden
For more information, please contact the ONS Quality Centre.
The Statistical Training Service (STS) in ONS run a one-day quality course which is available for all GSS staff. For more details, check out the Learning and Development area of the website.
Tools and Guidance
To enable the GSS to effectively carry out all aspects of Quality Management it has developed tools that official statistics producers can use. This approach is consistent with the National Statistician’s Guidance on Quality, Methods and Harmonisation.
Producers are encouraged to undertake one or more of the quality management tasks listed below through the year to ensure quality best practice. All activities should be documented in the Annual Assurance Report.
> Definitions – This provides definitions and information on the various aspects of quality.
> Tools – These tools have been created to help producers of official statistics to ensure the quality of their output.
> Guidance – This section provides guidance on various areas related to quality and quality reporting.
Quality Champion Network
The Quality Champion Network is a network of people all over the GSS who share an interest in helping improve the quality of our statistics. They can provide tools and resources for understanding how to make improvements, along with the motivation and support to see these through.
The Quality Improvement Fund (QIF) was provided by the UK Statistics Authority each year to the Government Statistical Service (GSS) to support improvements in quality and trust in official statistics. The fund became available in 2009 and was withdrawn in 2015/16.
Official statistics producers were able to bid for QIF funding to support quality improvements to their official statistics providing they met the criteria set.
This fund was managed by the Quality Centre within the Office for National Statistics (ONS)