In an interview with Civil Service World, Shah acknowledged that some departments value statisticians more than others, but said that in the long term, across government “statisticians have had a drop in their status.”
In the 1970s, he noted, the most senior statisticians in departments tended to be “on the board or at board level,” but now they are “probably not at the most senior levels, and I would hope that we see a shift back to statisticians being recognised as having something to contribute at board level.”
Shah suggested that statisticians may have been replaced by economists on departmental boards. “I don’t want to fight against other disciplines,” he said, “but we would say that statistics brings something quite needed to the table.”
Shah argued that the statisticians’ skills of rigorously analysing data will become all the more important as government produces, uses and publishes increasing amounts of information.
Despite the drop in status, Shah said, the government statistics profession is “pretty good”.
See also: our full interview with Hetan Shaw