Key Performance Indicators

The ONS strategic business plan set out a number of new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that would be used to monitor performance. The KPIs align to the four strategic principles of the UKSA strategy. This year, we have captured KPI metrics on the following aspects of performance:


  • The number and percentage of experimental Research and Development projects and innovative product developments ongoing within the Data Science Campus.
  • The number of users of the Secure Research Service (SRS), and live projects on the SRS.
  • The status of ONS data acquisition priorities.


  • Major errors and statistical breaches.
  • Responses to our social and COVID-19 related surveys.


  • Data relating to the diversity of our workforce.
  • Average scores from surveys on inclusion and fair treatment.
  • Overall Civil Service People Survey Engagement scores.


  • Performance against our Greening government commitments.
  • Total Full Time Equivalent across the business.
  • Performance against our budgetary control totals.

As this is the first year operating under our new strategic business plan with new KPIs there are no comparators with prior years. We are also in the process of understanding the appropriate level of our targets for each KPI. Nevertheless, we feel that the suite of KPIs developed this year are more meaningful in terms of monitoring and managing the right metrics that align with the outcomes that we are seeking to achieve through our strategy.

Alongside the KPIs we also monitor performance against our enabling programmes milestones, with 92.6 per cent of all milestones scheduled in 2020/21 being achieved on time.

There are further KPIs that we intend to introduce during 2021/22 and the current set of metrics will continue to be refined. We will set out all additions and changes as we move through the current UKSA Strategic time period.


Table 1

Major errors10 errors reported in the year 2020/21 and corrected5
Statistical breaches11 statistical breaches reported in the year 2020/21 relating to time of publication6
Social surveys3,811 monthly responses for February Labour Force Survey Wave 17
COVID-19 Infection SurveyWithin range 137,057 to 152,285138,251 fortnightly distinct participants as at March 20218

5 –  Errors and Breaches are two indicators measuring the quality of our outputs. The errors reported represent less than one per cent of our total statistical releases in the period. For context these errors are defined as those which, for example, could affect an important aspect of a release or lead a user to misinterpret the statistics. As set out in the Governance Statement we are improving our approach to managing quality risks and strengthening the assurance system that operates to manage them. All errors were swiftly corrected and communicated to users.

6 –  A statistical breach is defined as when an organisation producing official statistics does not meet all standards outlined in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Breaches of the Code in respect of orderly release are the most commonly reported and represent all those that occurred this year. This includes any statistics being published one or more minutes later than required time. As set out in the Governance Statement we are improving our approach to managing quality risks and the assurance system that operates to manage them.

7 –  Monthly responses are monitored to reflect the level of engagement with our key social surveys. We are yet to establish an appropriate target level for this KPI. During the period April 2020 to March 2021 the annual responses were 33,145 compared with 32,327 for the preceding 12 months which reflects an increase of 2.5%.

8 –  Measures the number of distinct fortnightly participants under the COVID-19 Infection Survey. The target range is within 10% of 152,285 distinct fortnightly participants.


Table 2

ONS staff diversity 16.9% of staff who declared a disability9
ONS inclusive culture85% positive responses to the Inclusion and Fair Treatment People Survey Question10
ONS overall engagement71% overall engagement score in the 2020 People Survey11

9 –  16.9% of our staff who responded declared a disability. Our overall response rate is 59%. We intend to widen the KPIs relating to the diversity of our staff during 2021/22.

10 – 2019 Civil Service People Survey question on Inclusion and Fair Treatment returned a 79% positive response. This figure was exceeded in the 2020 Survey by 6%.

11– Overall engagement score increased by 5% from the 2019 Civil Service People Survey.


Table 3

Greening government commitmentsAchieve all 5 annual targets5 out of 5 targets achieved12
ONS staff levelsStaff increased by 729 compared to 2019/2013
ONS financial positionRemain within key control totalsAll financial control total targets met 14

12 – Greening government commitment targets include paper purchased, water consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste produced and domestic flights.

13 – Staff increases largely relate to the increase in activity associated with Census 2021; the COVID-19 Infection Survey and wider analysis; and the Integrated Data Programme.

14 – Control totals include Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL); Capital DEL; Depreciation; Annually Managed Expenditure; and Net Cash Requirement.

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