The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will take a central role in the new National Data Strategy (NDS) announced by the UK government on 9 September 2020.
As part of this, the ONS will lead on actions that sit at the core of two pillars of effective data use, namely: Data Foundations and Skills. These include a programme of work to tackle cultural and coordination barriers to good quality data, such as launching a data quality framework and a data maturity model for government.
The ONS will also train over 500 data analysts from across the public sector in new cutting-edge data science techniques by 2021. Progress towards this target is already well underway.
The training is being delivered by the ONS's Data Science Campus, which has been highlighted as core to the government's strategic aim to make the identification and use of data central to decision making. Recently the Campus completed an audit of data science skills across the UK public sector alongside the Government Digital Service, which is shortly due to be published and is referenced within the National Data Strategy.
Since 2018, the UK's Data Science Campus has been delivering training by an in-house team on everything from basic coding to advanced data science techniques using methods such as machine learning. This includes a new MSc in Data Analytics for Government, apprenticeship programmes and a graduate data scientist programme at the Campus.
Dave Johnson, Deputy Director at the Data Science Campus, said:
"There has never been a greater demand for analysts capable of producing close to real-time analysis from an array of new and novel data sources to equip decision makers with the right level of info to make critical decisions about the UK's future.
"We've taken the findings of our recent data science audit, the lessons we've learnt from the response to the pandemic and priorities outlined in the National Data Strategy and brought these together to offer the best and most relevant training we can to provide the skills government needs to help with their mission to transform our use of data."
More information about all of the learning opportunities offered by the Data Science Campus is available.
This training is just one part of the important role the ONS is playing in delivering the government's new National Data Strategy, which also includes running the new Government Data Quality Hub (DQHub). DQHub will provide a wide range of products and services to drive improvement in data quality across government, including taking forward recommendations from the recent Joined up data in government review, led by the ONS and the Government Analysis function. These include improving data linkage methods, application and skill sets across government.
The ONS is alsoleading the effort to bring an Integrated Data Platform (IDP) for government. The programme will provide the opportunity to unlock the vast potential of linked data to enhance decision making for the public good, providing a quality evidence base on which to improve the lives of citizens.
It will be a digital collaborative environment that enables cross-government teams and wider communities to deliver complex analytical outcomes by bringing together analysts, data, information governance and domain expertise in a safe, secure and trusted infrastructure.
The ONS has long advocated for sound data foundations and has contributed to a range of cross-government initiatives to shape data foundations and support the government in its data-driven decisions. As part of that effort the ONS will be developing and validating a set of data principles to be applied across the government.
Tomas Sanchez Lopez, ONS Chief Data Architect said:
"At ONS we have always believed that the key to effective data usage is to set a solid data foundation. The ONS data strategy that we published in 2019 clearly sets out what infrastructure elements we need to develop to build that foundation. We also believe that strong collaboration across government is fundamental, so we have made it our business to talk to as many people as possible about what we think the future of data should look like. The National Data Strategy gave us the opportunity to take everything we have learned and advise central government. We are delighted that we can continue to be at the heart of this important work to make government's data more effective and manageable in the future"
The ONS will also help to support the global effort on interoperability, which will facilitate the combination and cross-referencing of different data sources; an effort that will be supported by the International Division. The ONS will also collaborate with our international partners to build strong national statistical systems to drive economic growth and help to deliver inclusive, effective services. More information is available on the work of the International Division.
The UK Statistics Authority will continue to support the National Statistician's Data Ethics Advisory Committee and the NSDEC's ethical principles and self-assessment tool to help researchers and statisticians consider and evaluate the ethics of their use of data for statistical and research purposes.
Notes to editors
Data Science Campus
The Data Science Campus was established within the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2017 with a core of well-qualified professionals, involving a strong network of third-party participants in the mission of the Campus. We have set up a series of data projects that provide insight into key policy themes and critical response to national issues and capability building programmes aimed at building data science skills in UK government and other public bodies.
They are located at the ONS Newport site in south Wales, with hubs in London, Titchfield (Hampshire) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s site in East Kilbride.
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