Magazine article Public Finance

Statisticians 'Should Assess Dius Reports'

Magazine article Public Finance

Statisticians 'Should Assess Dius Reports'

Article excerpt

Independent statisticians should verify future reports by the skills department, MPs have said.

The select committee that monitors the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills attacked it for massaging figures in its first annual report The MPs claimed that readers would have been left 'baffled' by statistics that appeared to show an improvement in access to higher education by young people from lower socioeconomic groups.

'The danger is that departments will simply choose the dataset that fits their conclusions unless they set out in advance of seeing the data the metrics they are going to use to ensure consistency,' said the committee s report, published on January 20.

The committee also criticised the department for its use of obscure jargon to burnish its image. MPs noted that permanent secretary Ian Watmore was unable to explain the meaning of the passage: An overarching national improvement strategy will drive up quality and performance underpinned by specific plans for strategically significant areas of activity'

The MPs added 'Inaccessibility of the prose was not the only problem we encountered. …

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