This paper examines the role of the whole statistical community – both users and producers and not only those working in official agencies– in building a society in which official statistics are trusted. Statistically-literate citizens help to ensure that governments interpret and use information effectively and responsibly.
The use of performance monitoring is becoming increasingly common in many countries and official statistics are required to support this process. Data are needed to establish 'what works' among policy initiatives; to identify those aspects of public services which perform well or poorly; and, equally important, to hold public servants and elected representatives to account. We have also witnessed the rise of such performance monitoring at international levels, where there can be big incentives for governments to tell a particular story.
Thus governments use statistics to monitor public services, whilst at the same time themselves being monitored by performance indicators. In such an environment the production of policy-relevant statistics which are nevertheless shielded from political interference is becoming ever more challenging.
Keywords: Official statistics; Trust; Trusted; Statistical literacy
Biography: Professor Denise Lievesley, a social statistician by training, is the Head of the School of Social Science and Public Policy at King's College London a position she took up in October 2008. She holds a chair in Social Statistics. Denise was, until July 2007, the founding Chief Executive of the English Information Centre for Health and Social Care. Formerly she was Director of Statistics at UNESCO for seven years where she established its new Institute for Statistics.
She was President of the Royal Statistical Society from 1999 to 2001, and is the past President of the International Statistical Institute. She has been the President of the International Association for Official Statistics, and was the international representative on the Board of the American Statistical Association for three years to the end of 2007.
She is currently the chair of the European Statistical Advisory Committee.