It’s good to see the UK Statistics Authority calling it into question as well – on this occasion, due to the unauthorised sharing of new job statistics on a “social media network” belonging to the Department before they were officially published.
The matter was raised in a letter from the UKSA’s director general for regulation, Ed Humpherson, to Sir Robert Devereaux, permanent secretary of the DWP.
Although the figures only went out to 300 people, prior knowledge of any market can have serious consequences, and questions of corruption may arise from it.
Such incidents also harm public perception of how well a government department may be trusted.
Perhaps it is time such pre-release access ended. Let’s all have the same figures at the same time.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
An indication of the substance of Wednesday’s Labour Market Statistics release
was shared by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with up to 300 people, through a social media network ahead of the publication of the report by someone who is not
approved to have pre-release access to the statistics.
The Authority is deeply concerned about the impact that breaches (and apparent breaches)
relating to the unauthorised, widespread sharing of statistics before their publication may
have on the trustworthiness of the UK’s official statistics system.
I would welcome your assurance that you will review – and improve where necessary – the
processes relating to the handling of pre-release access within your department to ensure
that such an occurrence cannot and will not happen again.
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