Data quality

The request was partially successful.

Dear Office for National Statistics,

Please provide me with copies of your current policies in the following areas: (1) data quality, (2) ensuring that statistics are accurate, (3) avoiding bias in statistical information (4) ensuring statistics are communicated clearly.

Thank you,

Mr Cross,

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FOI Team, Office for National Statistics

Our Reference: FOI/2022/4218


Dear Mr Cross,


Thank you for your email requesting data pertaining to Policies on data
quality, statistical accuracy, avoiding bias, and clear communication.


I am writing to confirm that the Office for National Statistics has now
completed its search for the information which you requested and the
response can be found here:


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request reviewed internally by an internal review process and, if you
remain unhappy with the decision, by the Information Commissioner. If you
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The Freedom of Information Team

Office for National Statistics


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Mr Cross left an annotation ()

The text of the response was as follows:

"We said
​Thank you for your request.

Information relating to statistical quality is publicly available on the Analysis Function website.

Information on accuracy, bias and communicating statistics can be found here alongside a wealth of other information. The website can be easily searched and browsed for required information.

Some particular items to draw your attention to are:

The overall guidance on Quality in Statistics, which offers practical advice on how to design processes that are efficient, transparent and reduce the risk of mistakes when producing statistics. It covers the dimensions for measuring the quality of statistical outputs.

The GSS Quality Strategy, which sets out best practice to improve the quality of our statistics and manage the processes surrounding their production and is designed to ensure that we comply with the quality requirements of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The Code of Practice is based on three pillars: Trustworthiness, Quality and Value. Each pillar contains principles that producers of statistics should commit to. The document also contains guidance, resources and links to case studies. The Code covers three areas of practice - collaboration, coherence and transparency and cuts across the three pillars. The Office for Statistics Regulation reviews compliance with the Code.

The ONS Statistical Quality Improvement Strategy, which lays the quality objectives, as well as how to implement those, to improve quality across the ONS in the production of statistics and analysis that serve the public good.

The Communicating quality, uncertainty and change guidance, which sets out principles on how to communicate information about quality, uncertainty and change to users.

As well as the comprehensive guidance available, further support for statistical producers can be identified from the GSS methodology support page.

For more on the quality of data either not being used for statistical purposes, or data that is pre-analysis, the Government Data Quality Framework sets out the importance of understanding whether data is fit for purpose, and the need to tackle the root causes of poor quality."

Dear Office for National Statistics,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of the Office for National Statistics' handling of my FOI request 'Data quality'.

While I am grateful for the information already provided, I would ask the internal reviewer to consider whether there is any other information falling into the scope of my request that was not disclosed for example policies issued to staff but not published online.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross

Dear FOI Team,

Please can you update me on the internal review?

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

FOI Team, Office for National Statistics

Dear Mr Cross,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your internal review request. We are currently working on the review and will get back to you as soon as possible with a response.

Kind Regards
FOI Team

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FOI Team, Office for National Statistics

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email.

We are looking into this for you and will have response with you in due course.

Kind regards,
The Freedom of Information Team | UK Statistics Authority | Awdurdod Ystadegau'r Deyrnas Unedig
@UKStatsAuth | [email address] |

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FOI Team, Office for National Statistics

Dear Mr Cross


Thank you for your email and your patience with us. Please accept my
apologies for the delay in our response to you.


In your request to us you asked for our current policies on:


• Data quality
• Ensuring statistics are accurate
• Avoiding bias in statistical information
• Ensuring statistics are communicated clearly


We responded providing you with links to policies on our website, these
links are as follows:


• [1]Analysis Function website
• [2]Guidance on quality in Statistics
• [3]GSS Quality Strategy
• [4]Code of Practice for Statistics.
• [5]ONS Statistical Quality Improvement Strategy
• [6]Communicating quality, uncertainty and change 
• [7]GSS methodology support
• [8]Government Data Quality Framework


We should have outlined that we do not hold specific policies that solely
address the areas requested. Instead we have a number of policies that
relate to your request, but also cover many other different topics in
parallel. All policies that contain any relevant information relating to
your request are already published on our website.

Our [9]Data Strategy webpage provides options for our Data Strategy, Data
Principles, [10]Data Policies, and Data Standards webpages. Under ‘Data
Policies’ you will find a number of policies that play a vital part in
ensuring that we manage and governs our data effectively. Please navigate
to this webpage to view the contents.


The following policies contained on this webpage may be of particular


• [11]Data standards policy
• [12]Data linkage and matching policy
• [13]Data ethics policy


We also hold a number of published policies on writing style guidance
which could fall into your fourth category of request “ensuring statistics
are communicated clearly”. The below maybe of interest to you:


• [14]Main points and analysis guidance for bulletins
• [15]Data and methodology sections guidance for writing bulletins
• [16]What to include when writing articles
• [17]Data sources and quality guidance for writing articles
• [18]What sections to avoid when writing articles
• [19]Structuring content
• [20]Writing for your users


Teams are also advised to follow the Analysis functions [21]guidance for
releasing statistics in spreadsheets, however this would be considered as
advice rather than policy.


If you have any further queries regarding your request, please get back in
touch with us.


Kind regards,


The Freedom of Information Team | UK Statistics Authority | Awdurdod
Ystadegau’r Deyrnas Unedig

@UKStatsAuth | [22][email address] |




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