Quality assessment is a key factor for continuous improvement of Istat’s statistical products and processes. It is based on a combination of both internal audit and self-assessment procedures.
Quality assessment is aimed at verifying the compliance of statistical processes and products to the principles stated in Istat Quality guidelines. It allows for the identification of strengths and weaknesses in statistical processes and, meanwhile, for defining improvement actions. The quality assessment is carried out by a team of internal experts or auditors, in case of an audit and by the survey manager, in case of self-assessment, with the support of two questionnaires, one for the direct survey and one for the processes that use administrative data. Moreover, in the self-assessment, the results are revised by an internal expert or reviewer.
The assessment activity results in the definition of a list of improvement actions for each process under review that, after top management approval, are to be implemented in order to overcome the identified weaknesses and lead to quality improvements.
Istat introduced quality assessment procedures, on the direct survey, on regular basis in 2012, after two testing phases carried out in 2010 and 2011. Every year, about 14 processes, are subjected to evaluation.
In 2015-2016 the new tools for the statistical process using administrative data, guidelines and audit/self-assessment questionnaire, have been developed. The latter has been tested on two processes.
This activity allows the relevant improvement actions and contributes to the increase of quality improvement in statistical production processes.
The main improvement actions identified can be categorized as follows:
- “internal” improvement actions: to be implemented through resources available within the department or direction in charge of the assessed survey;
- “system” improvement actions: their implementation is linked to the development of Istat’s strategic projects; an example is the creation of common infrastructures such as the new centralized data acquisition systems;
- “collaborative” improvement actions: their implementation is linked to the collaboration among different actors; this is the case of methodological actions, IT actions or others.
Some recurring topics may be highlighted in improvement actions, in particular: the opportunity to accomplish the transition process towards electronic data collection techniques or their enhancement; the need to foster quality controls during data collection or during the first data revision; the need to strengthen the application of methodologies to improve the assessment of the accuracy of the produced estimates.
In addition, the quality assessment highlighted several strengths, namely: a more efficient reallocation of the resources; the identification of product or process innovations common to several surveys; the push towards cross-departments collaboration and sharing of improvement solutions.