The UK Statistics Authority has recently published its review of Official Statistics, Performance Measures and Targets. The Authority welcomes users’ comments about this report and is interested to hear their views and experiences of the way performance measurement and targets are reported.

Measuring performance is one of the main uses of official statistics, but reporting levels of performance and progress against targets often attracts controversy. So the Authority’s report sets out an approach that aims to enhance trustworthiness, quality and value.

The removal of National Statistics status of police recorded crime statistics highlights the challenge for statisticians across government to report performance and achievement effectively. The review demonstrates that:

  • the practice of using official statistics to report performance measures and achievement against targets is carried out with mixed success
  • statistical producers have a crucial role to play in putting measures (of current performance) and targets (for intended performance) into context – especially where statistical reporting of performance is central to informing democratic debate
  • publishing information about measures and targets as official statistics provides assurance that performance levels are being measured and decisions made using statistics that are produced to high professional standards

It underlines the importance of:

  • senior officials responsible for policy making working with senior statisticians to embed statistical thinking in the development of performance measures and targets
  • bringing statistical thinking to bear when performance management systems are developed, and performance measures and targets are evaluated
  • performance measures and targets being recognised explicitly in official statistics that report the underlying data
  • those engaged in policy making and statistical production recognising the twin, mutually beneficial roles of the statistician as expert advisors in the policy making process and as independent producers of statistics that are compliant with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics
  • senior departmental officials providing active support to enable statisticians to fulfil these dual roles effectively

This article was originally posted by Pat MacLeod appeared on StatsUserNet

Photo credit: Standard Measures, Greenwich, London by Neil Cummings