“What you doing?” ask the Saints. “I’ll be working in the statistics office” is the short answer. What that means is not obvious. It certainly wasn’t clear to me before I got here. One week in and things are getting clearer but the details still need filling in. I’ve copied the official press release below. It should satisfy anyone with a general interest. Ex-ONS colleagues will have a better idea of the ominous depths below those words.
Defending the requirement for a statistician for a population of a little over 4000 is a separate issue. Suffice to say it is important, really important. Not because it’s me doing the job but because official statistics are something we take for granted in the UK. They are produced... by someone, somewhere. We see the figures in the media. Perhaps we don’t recognise just how important they are to planning, appropriately allocating resources and monitoring the economic and social welfare of the country. Many (most?) people don’t realise the effort and dedication that goes in to making sure that the figures which are produced really are the best they can be. There are (and always will be) some issues and limitations. These are complicated figures produced by people. However, there is a strict code of practise by which all UK official statistics are produced which limit potential issues, ensures new research is incorporated into statistical methodology, and ensures that the figures you see in the press are produced in such a way that you can see exactly how and why they came to be. This isn’t the case everywhere. When asked at interview what I would bring to the office I said I’d bring the Code of Practise for UK official statistics and cake.
Bob is handling the cake (all ingredients sourced and obtained!) and I’m doing the other bits... The SHG press release is copied below. Link to source is here:
NEW STATISTICIAN TAKES THE OATH OF OFFICE
24 September 2012
Arriving on 12 September 2012 was Statistician, Dr. Paula McLeod who will be working within the St Helena Government Statistics Office on a two year contract.
Dr. McLeod took the official Oath for Statistics Officer in the presence of His Excellency Governor Capes at his Office, in Jamestown, on Thursday 20 September 2012.
As the Statistician Paula will be working with the statistics team to ensure that they keep building on their current skills base and that the office is equipped to meet the requirement for accurate, timely and relevant statistics.
Paula will also be working closely with other Government Directorates to ensure that the Statistics Office is appropriately addressing their requirements for reliable evidence with which to inform the decision making process.
Paula is also hoping to engage with the Private Sector to improve their trust and understanding in the figures produced.
“My initial activities will include reviewing the National Statistical Development Strategy to ensure we are meeting the targets set out but also to ensure that the strategy itself remains relevant to the needs of SHG, the private sector, potential investors and the general public.
“It is evident that there is a need to review some of our data collection practices. We need to be taking advantage of the opportunity to embrace new working practices and technology where appropriate to improve efficiency and ensure that we are collecting the information we need without imposing an undue burden on those responsible for data collection.”
Prior to coming to St Helena Paula worked in the Methodology Directorate at the Office for National Statistics in the UK.
Paula is here with her partner Bob and daughter Philippa. Bob will be a stay at home parent and Philippa has started in the reception class at Harford Primary School.
“We are all really happy to be here. Everyone we have met has been so friendly and welcoming which is making settling in much easier. The Island itself is incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring… but the roads are taking some getting used to!
“My daughter is thriving on everything St Helenian and my partner is rising to the challenge of getting washing to dry in Longwood.
“I am looking forward to the tasks ahead. A vital part of it will be good communication and working closely with key users. I am in the process of meeting people but if anyone feels I should be talking/listening to them and have not yet met them then please make yourself known!”
21 September 2012