Data manifesto

The Royal Statistical Society published a 'Data Manifesto' (PDF) in September 2014. It describes ten recommendations and focuses on how the UK government can improve data for policymaking, democracy and for prosperity.

In the manifesto, the Society calls for official statistics to be at the heart of policy debate and recommends that the Office for National Statistics and the wider Government Statistical Service be given adequate resources, as well as calling for greater investment in research, science and innovation.

The manifesto shows that the Society is broadly supportive of the open data agenda; in particular the opening up of government data and giving citizens greater access to quality local data. It calls for greater data sharing between government departments for statistics and research purposes and believes the private sector should be encouraged to share data with researchers for the same purpose. It also calls for an end to pre-release access to official statistics.

The government should:

  1. Ensure evidence and official statistics are at the heart of policy debate
  2. Commit to greater data sharing between government departments for statistics and research purposes
  3. Champion basic training in data handling and statistics for politicians, policymakers and other professionals working in public services
  4. End the practice of pre-release access whereby some people in government see statistics before the public
  5. Give citizens greater access to quality local data
  6. Encourage companies to share data for research purposes for the public good
  7. Increase investment in research and innovation
  8. Progress more quickly on opening up government data
  9. Give the Office for National Statistics and the wider Government Statistical Service adequate resources
  10. Prepare for the data economy by skilling up the nation. 

The Society is also working hard to improve statistical literacy across the board; it supports the teaching of basic data handling and quantitative skills in all A levels that use data, raising its profile in maths A levels, and ensuring that the new Core Maths qualification teaches appropriate statistical skills. It also calls for politicians, policymakers and other professionals in the public sector be given basic training in data handling and statistics.