27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Search for new stats chief fails

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The search for a new UK Statistician has failed to find anyone to take up the post.

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) began its search for someone to lead the Office for National Statistics in November after the current office holder, John Pullinger (pictured) announced he would retire in the middle of this year.

However, by the time applications closed in January, the search had failed to attract anyone qualified and willing to fill the role, which pays £160,000 (A$293,000) a year.

A spokesperson for the Authority said it was “discussing next steps” with the Civil Service Commission.

Officials must now choose whether to reopen the recruitment process or change the job specification.

However, it is unlikely a successor will be appointed before Mr Pullinger steps down at the end of this month.

Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, Hetan Shah said that although the Deputy National Statisticians would be able to “hold the fort” in the interim, it was concerning that UKSA had been unable to attract anyone willing to take up the role.

“The concern for the UK Statistics Authority will be how to get a field of strong candidates in any re-recruitment process that they run, if those candidates were not persuaded to apply the first time around,” Mr Shah said.

He also urged the Authority to “look beyond the immediate problem” and address the management skills gap among Public Service statisticians to ensure it does not run into the same problem in future.

“The deeper problem this all points to is that there has not been sufficient investment in building the leadership skills of official statisticians so that there is a pool of candidates for roles of this stature when they come up,” Mr Shah said.

London, 27 April 2019

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