‘More important than ever that stats are credible’: RSS invites entries for awards

Government statisticians asked to put projects forward for two trophies
Photo: Brad.K/Flickr/(CC BY 2.0)

Government statisticians are being invited to put forward their best stats-based projects as the Royal Statistical Society nominations for its Award for Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Launched for the first time last year as the Voluntary Application Award, the Award for Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value recognises organisations that have voluntarily adopted the Office for Statistics Regulation’s code of practice.

It has been renamed for the 2021 round to better reflect its purpose.

It is being awarded in partnership with the Office for Statistics Regulation and Civil Service World. The Campion Award for Excellence in Official Statistics award, in partnership with the UK Statistics Authority and CSW, is also accepting entries.

The award will recognise excellence in the voluntary application of the “pillars” of trustworthiness, quality and value outlined in the OSR’s code of practice for statistics.

Last year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government won the inaugural award for its Building Safety Programme Monthly Data Release that started in December 2017, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The data provides the public, stakeholders and parliament with the latest figures on high-rise residential buildings with aluminium composite material cladding, an external covering that aided the spread of fire at Grenfell.

Launching the statistical excellence award yesterday, RSS chief executive Stian Westlake said it was “important now more than ever that statistics are credible, and this award rightly celebrates those organisations that are going above and beyond by voluntarily holding their statistics to a high benchmark”.

And OSR’s director general for regulation, Ed Humpherson, noted that the award was happening for a second time after “a year when statistics have not left the headlines”.

“I hope to get entries from a wide range of organisations who are applying the principles of the code to enhance the public value for their users,” he said.

Civil servants have also been invited to submit entries to the annual Campion Award for Excellence in Official Statistics, which celebrates good practice and innovation in producing and presenting government stats for the public good.

It is named for the late Sir Harry Campion, the first director of the UK Central Statistical Office, the forerunner to the Office for National Statistics, in the 1940s.

Last year, Ofsted’s Schools Pre-inspection Data and Insight team took home the award for its Inspection Data Summary, which provides statistically-driven insights to help guide conversations about inspection. 

Judges said the project was a “fantastic example of understanding user needs” that had cut costs, improved the team’s use of data and had a “tangible impact” on improving education outcomes.

Dev Virdee, who chairs the judging panel for the 2021 award, said he expected this year’s entries would be “stronger than ever” and reflect how statisticians had risen to the challenge of coronavirus.

“During the pandemic, government statisticians have had to work tirelessly in challenging circumstances to ensure both policy-makers and the public have the information they need. Alongside long-running statistical products, new outputs to monitor the impact of Covid-19 have had to be rapidly developed,” he said.

Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said: 'The last 12 months upped the stakes for official statisticians and colleagues across the whole statistical system, and they have responded brilliantly. Their work is highly respected in government and by the public, trusted to keep them informed and able to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I’m thrilled to invite nominations to award the very best of this work and I look forward to reading more of their achievements in such challenging circumstances.”

Entries for the Campion Award close on 16 April, and for the Award for Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value on 30 April.

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