RSS and UKSA award seeks to find the best use of official statistics

Written by Richard Johnstone on 17 January 2018 in News
News

Best practice in government statistics award renamed in honour of former RSS president Sir Harry Campion

Last year's award winners. From left to right: Scottish Government statisticians Paul Tyrer, Maike Waldmann, Alastair McAlpine and UK national statistician and head of the Government Statistical Service John Pullinger

The Royal Statistical Society has today opened nominations for the 2018 Excellence Award in Official Statistics that recognises innovative use and production of official statistics for the public good.

The award, which is given in partnership with the UK Statistics Authority, was last year given to three civil servants behind the creation of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The judges saluted the work of Alastair McAlpine, Maike Waldmann and Paul Tyrer as "a great example of how to communicate clear findings to decision makers" that gave a human edge to the statistics.


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This year’s award has been renamed in honour of former RSS president, the late Sir Harry Campion, who was also the first director in 1941 of what was then the UK Central Statistical Office, now the Office for National Statistics. Civil Service World is the media partner for this year.

The award, which is given in partnership with the UK Statistics Authority, is for anyone working in UK government statistics and rewards good practice, focusing on statistics for the public good. Entries are sought for work carried out or completed between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 that shows how the relevant statistical output has helped to make a decision, inform a debate or bust a myth.

Launching the entries drive, RSS executive director, Hetan Shah: "Our official statistics award gives government statisticians a great opportunity to showcase how their work meets society’s needs. We’re particularly pleased this year to be renaming the award in honour of the late Sir Harry Campion, a former RSS president and first director of the UK’s Central Statistical Office - the forerunner of the Office for National Statistics."

More details on the entry criteria, and how to nominate a particular piece of work, can be found on the RSS website. The deadline for entries is midnight on 31 March.

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation was developed to identify areas that had a number of problems in sectors such as income, employment, health, education, crime and housing. This helped to identify places with resource barriers to improving lives. The data has been used in research and policy development, including in Scottish Government legislation to tackle child poverty and to increase community empowerment.

UK national statistician and head of the Government Statistical Service John Pullinger said the “fascinating publication responded to user needs, engaged a broad range of users from the media to policy developers, and improved trust in data – something we consistently strive for”.

Other shortlisted entries included the Health and Safety Statistics for Great Britain 2015/16 from the Health and Safety Executive, which judges said had made robust statistics accessible to a wide range of decision makers. Two statistical innovations from the Department for Work and Pensions were also among these nominated in 2017 – the Work, Health and Disability Green Paper Data Pack that presented analysis in a way that creates new insights for decision makers, and a programme to release statistics in multiple formats in order to improve accessibility and engagement.

A live performance dashboard of latest statistics from the then Department for Communities and Local Government (since renamed the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government) was also nominated for creating easy to use system to access the latest statistics.

Chair of the awards organising committee, Dev Virdee, added that last year’s entries had included “many examples of excellent work being carried out across the GSS, which gave us quite a challenge to produce the short list of five for the judging panel”.

“All entrants are to be congratulated for their entries and for the pride which they clearly have in their work,” he added.

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

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