For Stats SA to maintain it’s legislative obligation and to ensure good quality products, it is crucial that the products and their underlying data adhere to relevant standards. To address this, a process of Standards Development within the Standards division has been initiated. This process provides guiding principles on how standards should be identified, developed, tested, implemented, supported and maintained in Stats SA. It also provides guiding principles for related activities, such as the infrastructure for standards in Stats SA, standards outside of Stats SA (including those within the NSS), and the development of expertise in standards. So far a number of standards have been developed.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), as the state agency in charge of producing official statistics, places great importance on data quality, to ensure that its statistical products and services satisfy user needs. To this effect a third version of concepts and definitions used in Stats SA was developed so as to ensure usage of common definitions by everyone in the organisation.
Common concepts and definitions enable statistical data and information to be comparable, and hence facilitate analysis and comparability of data sets, and leads to better quality products produced by Stats SA.
After the released of the first edition of South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF) in 2008 and its appearance in the Government Gazette in 2009, the need for quality assessment has increased from different stakeholders. An increase in the demand by government departments and other data producers was due to the demand for statistics that can be trusted. SASQAF was used as enabler for self-assessment by data producers; mainly organs of state, review performed by a Data Quality Assessment Team (DQAT) in context of the National Statistics System (NSS) for certifying statistics as official as stipulated in the Statistics Act (Act No.6 of 1999). The Statistics Act mandates the Statistician – General to formulate quality criteria and establish standards, classifications and procedures for statistics produced by all organs of state and other agencies that produce statistics and to designate as official, statistics or class of statistics produced by any organ of state.
SASQAF provides clear criteria and transparent procedures for evaluation of official statistics and other data, but can be also used by data producers for self-assessment of their own products. In implementing SASQAF edition one, it was difficult for data producers to apply SASQAF as intended. This has resulted in the development of SASQAF operational standards and guideline document. The document serves as a guide for data producers and assessors in determining the quality of statistics through SASQAF. It also provides additional guidelines on how best good quality products can be achieved. It aligns each quality indicator within the dimension with standards that need to be adhered to, followed by a set of guidelines that assist in managing the dimension. SASQAF ed.2 is the culmination of a comprehensive process of learning and consultation, and has benefited from the input of a number of stakeholders.