The President has an important role as an exemplar of all that is best about the Society and the discipline of statistics. As the chair of Council, the President has a decisive influence on the policy and activities of the Society.
The Society selects fellows for presidency based on their acknowledged statistical achievements, and contribution to the progress of the discipline.
Up until the 1970s, Society Presidents were not always from the statistical community. Past Presidents have included Prime Minister William Gladstone and social reformer Sir William Beveridge, as well as experts from the field such as William Guy, a nineteeth century luminary.
Current President - John Pullinger
John began his career as an assistant statistician at the Department of Trade and Industry where he worked on design and delivery of surveys into investment in manufacturing industries, compilation of industrial cost and price indices and estimation of monthly retail sales.
He moved on promotion to the Department of the Environment taking responsibility for statistics on local government revenues before becoming a policy advisor on Urban Development Corporations and later local government finance reform, including the legislation on the Council Tax. A further promotion took him to the Office of Manpower Economics where he headed the pay research team conducting comparative research to inform pay levels in the civil service, armed forces and teaching profession.
In 1992 John entered the senior civil service as Director of Policy and Planning at the Central Statistical Office. In this role he was project manager for the creation of the Office for National Statistics from the merger of the Central Statistical Office, Office of Population Censuses and Surveys and statistical units of the former Employment Department, policy lead on development of the Government Statistical Service and responsible for international relations. In this latter role John represented the UK at the United Nations Statistical Commission as well as at European Union, OECD, Commonwealth and many other international forums where statistical issues were discussed.
Taking the role of Director of Social and Regional Division, John became Editor of the flagship Social Trends publication and a host of other publications seeking to communicate complex statistical information to wide audiences. Following the 1997 general election he also built up a social analysis function to support new government policy units working on social exclusion, equality, drugs and many other issues.
By 1999 he had been promoted twice more and was an established member of the Office for National Statistics Board, responsible for the management of a large proportion of the staff of the Office including those working on labour market, demographic, health, social and regional statistics and analysis, the census, social surveys, and use of administrative records. As an established Head of Profession for statistics, he chaired many of the Government Statistical Service committees and played an active role in the Government’s Accountability and Incentives project, chairing expert panels assessing the validity of performance measures being proposed by government departments. He went on to lead the neighbourhood statistics programme and was actively involved in the developments in statistical governance which resulted in the creation of National Statistics and the Statistics Commission in 2000.
In 2004 he moved to become the 14th Librarian of the House of Commons, providing research, analysis and advice to MPs of all parties. As a member of the House of Commons Management Board, John has worked closely with the Speaker and several Committees in both Houses to develop the connection between Parliament and the public. His management responsibilities encompass the education service, visitor service, website and intranet, outreach and information office and media office and also include the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and the Curator’s Office which looks after Parliament’s collection of 8000 works of art and sculpture.