The Quality Objective of the French Official Statistical Service (SSP)
The Quality Policy
The 2014 peer review underlined the high level of compliance of the French Official Statistical Service with the principles of the European Statistics Code of Practice.
The review highlighted two specific strengths:
- the high level of staff training provided by a small number of schools ensuring the de facto coordination of the statistical service;
- governing bodies in keeping with the core requirements of the Code of Practice (CNIS; Label Committee, ASP).
At the same time, the auditors issued recommendations to further formalise quality management initiatives.
Following the review, the SSP’s quality policy, which consists in defining the target
to be achieved, was further clarified. The policy consists in “integrating quality
into processes, with the aim of securing processes and improving efficiency”.
The SSP is thus committed to continuously improving the quality of its statistical output by describing its processes, assessing the associated risks and systematically undertaking regular reviews of processes.
The Quality Strategy
The quality strategy, which defines the route for achieving the objective set by the quality policy, is built on guidelines based around five topics: governance, skills, quality approaches applied to processes, European commitments and the recommendations of the Official Statistical Authority (ASP), as well as the needs of decision-makers and other users.
Furthermore, the quality strategy is rooted in a logic of continuous improvement.
Five quality guidelines1 defined in 2017 and approved by the Statistical Programme Committee, the body responsible for ensuring coordination between INSEE and the Ministerial Statistical Offices (SSM).
- Guideline 1: Setting up a quality governance in each Ministerial Statistical Office
- Guideline 2: Developing Quality approach skills within the Ministerial Statistical Offices
- Guideline 3: Implementing Quality approaches within the Ministerial Statistical Offices
- Guideline 4: Respecting the European commitments as well as the responses to the French Statistical Governance Advisory Board recommendations concerning structuring statistics
- Guideline 5: Ensuring that the needs of decision-makers and other users are regularly taken into account.
These guidelines are implemented by the Ministerial Statistical Offices, which formally committed themselves to INSEE in 2018. In the spirit of the Ouvrir dans un nouvel ongletamended European Regulation (EC) No. 223/2009, they allow the Director General of INSEE to have information to ensure the quality of relevant statistics produced within the Statistical Service.
Focal Points of INSEE’s Quality Strategy Based on these Guidelines
Focal Point 1 – Governance: :
The management of the continuous quality improvement programme and, in particular, the planning of quality management initiatives relating to statistical production processes are the responsibility of a well-defined dedicated body: the Strategic Quality Committee, created in 2015. In planning quality management initiatives, the committee draws on a process diagram designed to provide a basis for organising INSEE’s activities.
Focal Point 2 – Skills:
All staff are made aware of the importance of quality during their initial training and throughout their career to ensure they acquire a common core of knowledge. To this end, a quality training package has been developed, as have communication tools suited to different audiences. To maintain the quality culture and provide support to the teams, a network of quality officers has been put in place within INSEE’s Regional Offices.
Focal Point 3 – Quality Approaches Applied to Processes:
INSEE has adopted a process-oriented approach. The quality initiatives undertaken in relation to these processes are based on well-established formal phases: identification of actors and their roles; description of statistical processes based on a model used by international statistical organisations (the GSBPM1); risk analysis; quality assessment in accordance with the principles of the European Statistics Code of Practice. Based on these initiatives, the aim is to define quality improvement plans managed by those responsible for the processes concerned as part of regular process reviews.
Focal Point 4 – Compliance with European commitments and ASP Recommendations:
The aim is to clarify, formalise and publicise measures that contribute to improving the quality of statistical output, whether relating to publication calendars and privileged early access or pre-release (embargo rules), the revisions policy applicable to published statistics or the methodological guidelines aimed at a lay audience, etc. The aim is also to contribute to the clarity and accessibility of published results by accompanying them with statistical metadata consistent with international standards.
Focal Point 5 – Consideration of Users’ Needs:
Taking into account users’ needs is critical in quality approaches. The aim is to draw on all appropriate tools (satisfaction surveys, user committees, etc.) for collecting and assessing these needs with a view to producing relevant statistics. Another aim is to improve the pedagogical quality of media platforms and to develop publication channels.
A Logic of Continuous Improvement
To establish quality as a permanent feature of its activities, INSEE operates on a continuous improvement model. The aim is, first, to develop a common culture and to promote individual accountability in order to ensure that quality is implemented at all levels and is not only the concern of a small number of experts. The other key aim is to promote quality management initiatives targeted primarily at the process stages that present the greatest risk or which are of significant importance to the Official Statistical Service. The introduction of regular process reviews is the preferred strategy for promoting the logic of continuous improvement.