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19.8.         The development of the NQAF and the guidelines that accompany the Template was undertaken by the Expert Group on NQAF in response to a request by the Statistical Commission at its forty-first session in 2010. The NQAF Template is intended to be used as a tool to provide the general structure within which countries that choose to do so can formulate and operationalize national quality frameworks of their own or further enhance existing ones. Other international organizations have also developed data quality systems. Examples include the IMF DQAF,[2] which is used to assess the quality of countries’ macroeconomic statistics and as a standard presentation of metadata within SDDS and the GDDS. Eurostat has developed a quality assurance framework(see box 19.1) that contains a total of eight quality criteria for which reporting is defined in the ESS Handbook for Quality Reports,[3] while the “Quality framework and guidelines for OECD statistical activities”[4] explicitly focuses the quality of the data used, produced and disseminated by OECD.


Box 19.1

Quality assurance in the European Statistical System

1.   In the European Statistical System (ESS), the quality of statistics is managed in the framework of the European Statistics (ES) Code of Practice, which sets the standards for developing, producing and disseminating European statistics.

2.   In accordance with the 15 principles of the ES Code of Practice and the provisions of regulation No. 223/2009 on European statistics, quality is     approached along three lines:   

(a)  Quality or characteristics of the institutional environment (six principles):   

1)  Professional independence;

2)  Mandate for data collection;

3)  Adequacy of resources;

4)  Commitment to quality;

5)  Statistical confidentiality;

6)  Impartiality and objectivity;

(b)  Quality of the statistical processes (fourprinciples):   

7)     Sound methodology;   

8)     Appropriate statistical procedures;   

9)     Non-excessive burden on respondents;   

10)   Cost effectiveness;   

(c)  Quality of the statistical output (5 principles):   

11)    Relevance;   

12)    Accuracy and reliability;   

13)    Timeliness and punctuality;  

14)    Coherence and comparability;  

15)    Accessibility and clarity.  

Each of the 15 principles of the ES Code of Practice (first level of quality assurance) contains specific indicators that show how compliance with the     principle can be demonstrated (second level of quality assurance). Compliance with the ES Code of Practice is regularly monitored through the     ESS-wide exercise of peer reviews, which start with a national self-assessment questionnaire. Improvement actions identified in the peer review exercise are then monitored and reported upon on an annual basis.

3.    To provide a third level of quality assurance, the ESS Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) was developed in 2011-2012. Similarly to other existing quality assurance frameworks, such as the NQAF, the ESS QAF provides methods and tools for implementation at the institutional and process level for each of the indicators of the ES Code of Practice, as well as links to relevant reference documentation. Therefore, it provides clear guidance to compliance assessors.