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Systematic data quality assurance

German official statistical data enjoy a reputation of high reliability both in Germany and abroad. The Federal Statistical Office provides relevant information serving as a reliable basis for decision-making in politics, businesses and the general public. This is what we will continue to strive for.

"We produce quality products" is therefore the 1st goal of our strategic goals of "fit 2012". Through comprehensive quality assurance already in the process of statistics production, we ensure that data are available with the expected high quality. Quality assurance in this context means the total of measures intended to ensure that our products and services achieve the desired quality levels. In our quality reports on the individual statistics, we regularly inform users about the quality characteristics of our products.

Many actors are involved in the production of statistics. It is the responsibility of all actors that high-quality data are released at the end of the production process. Therefore, all participants are involved in the co-ordination of quality assurance measures. A debate is going on both within the Federal Statistical Office and in co-operation with the statistical offices of the Länder about an increasing systematisation of quality assurance. The debate is based on the quality standards of official statistics that have jointly been developed by the statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder. The quality standards show for every step in the statistics production process what measures are taken to assure the quality.

In addition to the large number of basic quality assurance measures existing in statistics production, other systematic measures for data quality enhancement and assessment are discussed, tested and introduced. They include methods of process documentation and analysis and of quality criteria measurement. This is complemented by self-assessments and external assessments of data quality and user surveys.

Beyond the activities regarding systematic data quality assurance in the national statistical system, the Federal Statistical Office takes an active part in relevant developments within the European Statistical System. The same is true of the further development of the European Statistics Code of Practice and of the important handbooks and guidelines for the implementation of relevant recommendations.

Error policy

Despite the many quality assurance measures we employ, errors in published statistical products cannot be completely avoided.

The whole procedure of dealing with publication errors in the Federal Statistical Office is now described in a guideline "How to deal with publication errors". It ensures that errors are always treated, corrected and documented identically corresponding to a defined error classification. It also specifies the communication of the error with respect to the users of statistical data.

Revision policy

A revision is a modification of already published results as new or improved data become available and are incorporated into the calculation or when methodological and conceptual changes are made.

The General Revisions Policy of the Statistical offices of the Federation and the Länder describes the revision procedures which apply to all statistical domains in a transparent and comprehensible manner so as to increase the trust in official statistics and further enhance the usability of statistics.

The general revisions policy is supplemented by the revision calendar of the Federal Statistical Office. The revision calendar provides an overview of which sets of statistics are subject to revision and describes the respective revisions cycle by means of a standardised structure.

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