The importance of official statistics
Read any daily newspaper and you will see statistics being quoted but did you realise how many of these are official statistics produced by members of the Government Statistical Service?
Most people have not heard of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) but many rely on its outputs. For example, when economists discuss the state of the British economy they quote figures on the gross domestic product of the UK or comment on the latest inflation figures but it is the GSS who provide the underlying data to allow such comment and analysis to take place. Many of you will have looked at league tables of hospital or schools performance, but have you thought how these performances are measured? In 2001 you may have filled in a Census form, but do you know what happens to the information you provided? When the Chancellor announces his budget proposals each year, all of us are affected but who has provided the statistical analysis to underpin his decisions?
Government statisticians are involved in all of these activities and many more! We collect, process and analyse the data which are needed to enable policy makers and those involved in delivering the many services which government provides to carry out their jobs effectively. Some of you may be familiar with our published outputs the annual Social Trends publication, regional and labour market statistics, regular reports on the economy, health, crime, education and the multitude of data which can be derived from the population censuses. But government statisticians are involved in much more than this they help plan resources and budgets within departments, advise on the construction of performance indicators, help policy advisors evaluate options for change and monitor the effectiveness of new initiatives.