The article catalogues the major improvements and changes which were made during
the last decade of the 20th century. It charts the transition from a climate of doubt
and criticisms at the end of the 80s to the UK national accounts and economic statistics
being recognised as among the best in the world.The success of the initiatives listed
in the article can be seen in the quality of the statistical outputs which are more
timely, more consistent, more complete and subject to less revision. ONS is more
open about the quality adjustments, which are made to make the accounts balance.
We routinely publish survey sample errors and other diagnostics, showing improvements.
Our users recognise this both within government and in our established users groups.
One concrete result is that all the reservations put on the national accounts in
the mid 90s by the European Commission have now been lifted.The article splits the
decade into two phases. The first lasted until the mid 90s, implementing the remedial
action needed as a result of criticisms. The second phase since the mid 90s built
on this foundation, introducing many methodological improvements, making the surveys
more efficient and developing new products. It is essential reading for all those
with an interest in economic statistics.