Since the 90s Istat adopted a systematic approach to ensure quality in both statistical information and service to the community. For this purpose, the Italian National Institute ok Statistics has defined a quality policy providing itself with appropriate tools as well as management changes to carry it out.
Istat quality policy is aimed at the improvement of statistical outputs and processes through the development of appropriate methodologies and tools as well as an appropriate scientific and technical support, provided to the personnel directly involved in the production and dissemination of statistical information. Moreover, a set of standard quality indicators are regularly analysed and quality assessment is performed based on both internal audit and self-assessment of compliance between the production processes and Istat quality guidelines.
Istat quality policy is consistent with the European quality framework developed by Eurostat, and transposes its main principles and definitions. The endorsement in 2005 of the European Statistics Code of Practice (last revised in 2017) established the principles to be applied in order to ensure and strengthen both the trust and the quality of the European Statistical System.
According to article 11 (4) of Regulation (EC) No. 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Statistics, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/759 of 29 April 2015, Italy drafts progress reports that include information on the progress made on the implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice and on the efforts made towards the commitment to ensure confidence in statistics (Commitment on Confidence). The same article requires these reports to be updated and made public every two years: progress report 2019; progress report 2017.
Essential points of Istat quality policy are:
- Process quality: consisting in the production of accurate statistical information efficiently and effectively;
- Product quality: consisting in the dissemination of high-quality timely statistical data which are relevant for the users, also the potential ones;
- Documentation: consisting in the storage and availability of information necessary not only for a proper use of data but also to ensure transparency in all the production activities of statistical data;
- Respect for respondents: consisting in the reduction of response burden and in the respect of respondent’s privacy;
- Strengthening of statistical literacy: consisting in promoting a proper use of statistical information in policy-making to better support decisions and policies;
- Users’ orientation: consisting in making statistical information easily accessible and understandable and in satisfying user needs as much as possible.
A centralised team is in charge of performing the following tasks:
- to promote the development and use of methodologies and techniques to improve the statistical quality within Istat and the National Statistical System as well, in accordance with the European and international principles and standards.
- to encourage the systematic improvement of the quality of statistical products and processes through: a) the definition and dissemination of Guidelines, b) the management of quality audit; c) the process documentation and analysis of standard quality indicators.
This unit is supported by a network of more than 100 quality pilots, trained on quality issues and documentation, in charge of monitoring the quality of production processes they are involved in, calculating quality indicators as well as keeping updated the documentation for their own production process.
Quality tools have been developed by Istat in order to guarantee the quality of statistical processes and products and their transparency. They are available in the section Tools for data quality.