COLLECTION AND ORGANISATION OF PUBLIC SECTOR STATISTICS
64. The consultation paper "Improving Statistical Services in Scotland" proposed to initiate some work with local authorities and other public bodies to explore the possibility of a new partnership which would put in place new arrangements for collection, processing and publication of statistics. It asked:
- Should we be looking at a new partnership with local authorities and other public bodies for the collection, processing and publication of statistics?
- Do you have any suggestions on how this could work?
65. Respondents to the consultation paper cited examples of where partnerships between central and local government on statistics already works. Respondents were supportive of a new partnership, especially where this would improve efficiency.
- 'Scottish Water agrees that a partnership approach with local authorities and other public bodies should be looked at to determine if any future improvements can be made to the efficiency and/or effectiveness of data collection for statistical purposes. However, if the partnership approach leads to an additional burden on data providing organisations then the merits of taking it forward should be carefully considered and consulted on as funding is likely to be an issue for most public bodies, and little additional benefit is likely to be seen by the data providers.' (Scottish Water)
- 'Separate units of the Scottish Executive appear to lack overall knowledge of what is being requested. An overview of datasets and a system to extract information for different purposes could overcome this.' (Clackmannanshire Council)
- 'There is a danger that unless public service providers develop better understanding of and have the data more effectively to promote race equality, public service reforms will exacerbate racial inequalities. We therefore welcome the proposal for a new partnership between the Executive and other public bodies for the collection and organisation of public sector statistics. The benefits could include enhanced public services and greater opportunity to develop new ways of collecting data that address the current limitations on ethnicity data particularly and equalities data generally.' (Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland)
- 'One model which is worth further investigation is the Welsh Data Unit and whether a similar organisation might be possible in Scotland.' (Falkirk Council)
- 'Partnership working regarding the collection, processing and publication of statistics is of key importance. This would be particularly useful in sectors where the organisations best placed to contribute are not NDPBs, such as SMC.' (Scottish Museums Council)
- 'We favour such an approach on the understanding that it be guided by the principle that information should be gathered once by government and used many times (with appropriate confidentiality constraints) instead of being gathered many times by different agencies.' (Statistics Commission)
- 'The best example of how this could work is already in operation in ScotXed. Having been involved with this project over the past four years, I believe that it has made a huge contribution to improving the accuracy of and confidence in the statistics it deals with.' (West Dunbartonshire Council)
The Annual Statistics Stakeholder Conference 2007
66. It was clear at the Conference that stakeholders are keen to work with government statisticians to help drive up the quality and relevance of Scottish Official Statistics but they need a range of network and mechanisms to allow them to do this.
Scottish Government Response on Collection and Organisation of Public Sector Statistics :
67. There are two ways that we can take forward a partnership approach to statistics with local government and other bodies supporting the public sector.
68. Firstly, as a follow-up to the initial Official Statistics Order, we will engage with public bodies that produce statistics to consider whether their outputs should fall under the definition of Official Statistics - and further whether these can be fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Statistics. This work may result in a shift in who produces and publishes which statistics, with the aim of eliminating duplication of work.
69. Secondly, the new Single Outcome Agreements which are being produced by every local authority in Scotland, eventually to include Community Planning Partnerships, will present an opportunity for joint working on statistics.
70. Respondent burden is one of the issues on which we will need to demonstrate good practice on to the UK Statistics Authority; therefore we will continue to take steps to ensure that our statistics are needed and that the data collection is fully justified. The survey harmonisation work, referred to at paragraph 28, will also help to deliver more efficiently collected and effective data.
71. As suggested by consultation paper respondents, we have set-up a Statistical Sources and Outputs database. The database, which is currently being populated, will allow us to establish where there is duplication, where links can be made and where the use of statistics collected can be optimised. The database contains information on where equalities data are being collected and reported, thus it should also serve as a useful tool for monitoring gaps and improvements in equality data too.