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National Statistics Quality Review: the National Accounts and related products

As part of its rolling programme of National Statistics Quality Reviews (NSQRs), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is instituting a review of the user needs and methodology underpinning the National Accounts and the Balance of Payments.

NSQRs are part of the statistical framework for ensuring quality in UK national statistics. ONS Director General Glen Watson has appointed Kate Barker to lead the review. She will be assisted by Art Ridgeway who will lead the technical national accounting work streams. They will be supported by in house ONS technical experts.

The review will begin in September 2013 and the review team will report its findings and recommendations in the Spring of 2014. Its Terms of Reference are attached.

Glen Watson said: “The National Accounts and the closely related Balance of Payments are amongst our most important products. I am delighted that people of the calibre and experience of Kate and Art will be leading our review. This will be an important input into assuring the continuing high quality of the National Accounts, and will also contribute to the maintenance of a considered strategy for the National Accounts to take account of changing circumstances and users’ needs.”

National Statistics Quality Review of the National Accounts and Balance of Payments: Terms of Reference

To identify user needs and priorities for the UK National Accounts and related statistical outputs, and to review the compilation of those outputs in light of user needs, to assess current strengths and weaknesses and to make recommendations for the future direction of work in this area. The review should:

  1. Consider in scope the core National Accounts and the Balance of Payments; and also other related areas such as the public finance statistics, if and as necessary.

  2. Identify user needs for these statistics, both now and in the foreseeable future, and determine the relative priorities of those needs to enable the future development of informed and supported work programmes based on a shared understanding.

  3. Assess whether the basic compilation procedures developed and put in place following the Pickford Review in 1989 meet user needs and remain appropriate in current and prospective circumstances, and make recommendations for any changes, as necessary.

  4. Consider other factors and issues with a bearing on the reliability, accuracy and usefulness of these statistics, including the identification and management of risks in the coverage and collection of the underlying data, and in the subsequent  production processes based on  this data, and make recommendations for any changes, as necessary.

  5. Have regard to the possibilities opened up by technological and other developments for new ways of collecting and obtaining data to underpin and corroborate the statistics within scope of the review.

  6. Take into account previous reviews and international best practice and, in addition, the current and prospective obligations placed on the UK by European legal requirements and other international agreements, in respect of the statistics within scope of the review.

  7. Take into account the existing work of the Office for National Statistics in appraising strengths and weaknesses in the compilation of these statistics, and in assessing future demands and challenges.   

Notes for Editors

  1. National Statistics Quality Reviews (NSQRs) are an established tool to help ensure the continued quality of National Statistics. NSQRs are intended to be proportionate, so that their scope and resourcing reflects both the importance of the statistical output concerned and the complexity of its compilation. The National Accounts and the closely related Balance of Payments weigh heavily on both these counts. Accordingly, this NSQR will be externally led, supported by a small internal team for the life of the review.

  2. The review leader will be Kate Barker CBE who will report the review’s findings and recommendations to the ONS Director-General in spring 2014. Her report will be in the public domain.

  3. Kate Barker is a Senior Adviser to Credit Suisse, and a non-executive director of Electra Private Equity plc, Taylor Wimpey plc and the Yorkshire Building Society.  In the public sector she is a non-executive board member at the Office for Budget Responsibility. Previously, Kate was a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) from 2001 until May 2010.  During this period, she also led two major policy reviews for Government, on housing supply and on land use planning. Before joining the MPC she was Chief Economic Adviser at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

  4. Art Ridgeway, who will lead the technical national accounting dimensions of the review’s work, retired in the summer of 2013 as the Assistant Chief Statistician responsible for the National Accounts and Analytical Studies Field after 35 years at Statistics Canada. Art has been a member of the Advisory Experts Group on the National Accounts and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Balance of Payments Committee.  The major work of these committees is to oversee and advise on all proposed conceptual changes for the System of National Accounts and the Balance of Payments. Over his career at Statistics Canada, Art was in charge of the Balance of Payments and Public Sector Statistics and the Consumer Price Index. Art also spent three years at the Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE) - the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies - as part of an exchange program where he was the acting chief of the French producer prices program.  Art has also worked extensively on the impacts of globalization, and in particular global supply chains, on the macroeconomic accounts. Art was vice-chair of a joint United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)\Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD\Eurostat Expert Group on the Impacts of Globalization on the National Accounts.

  5. For further information contact:
    Media relations office – +44(0)845 6041858
    For non-media enquiries:
    Caron Walker – +44(0)1633 456343
    Adrian Chesson – +44(0)1633 456372


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