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 coherent with the European framework developed by Eurostat, taking up its main principles and definitions. In 2005, the European Statistics Code of Practice (revised in 2011) established the principles to follow in order to ensure and strengthen both accountability and governance of the European Statistical System and the National Statistical Systems inside it.
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.