John Pullinger, currently the House of Commons Librarian and DG of Information has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, and National Statistician, succeeding Jil Matheson who retires at the end of June 2014.
The role means Pullinger - who already holds the post of President of the Royal Statistical Society - becomes Head of the Government Statistical Service and the principal adviser on statistical matters to the Board of the UK Statistics Authority.
The Authority, described as 'an independent body operating at arm's length from government as a non-ministerial department, directly accountable to Parliament', was established on 1st April 2008 and is charged with promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good; their quality and comprehensiveness; and good practice in their compilation and dissemination.
These duties require the Authority to oversee the practices of around 30 government departments, and Pullinger arrives at a challenging time, with a major overhaul of the UK's practices in compiling statistics scheduled for later in the year and public criticism coming from a number of sources, including Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
Pullinger began his career as an assistant statistician at the Department of Trade and Industry, then worked at the Department of the Environment and the Office of Manpower Economics, before becoming Director of Policy and Planning at the Central Statistical Office in 1992, helping to create the Office for National Statistics. He was subsequently editor of the Social Trends publication, a member of the ONS management board, and in 2004 the 14th Librarian of the House of Commons. He was appointed as a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2014 New Year's Honours.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said today that Pullinger 'brings with him enormous professional expertise in official statistics from a distinguished career at all levels'. Of the departing head, he commented: 'I would like to reiterate our sincere thanks for Jil Matheson's exemplary leadership of the Statistical Service over the last five years as National Statistician... We have valued enormously Jil's professional wise counsel coupled with a great sense of fun, which are indeed remarkable qualities. We wish Jil all the very best for the future.'
Pullinger himself says the Board has 'an opportunity to build on what Jil Matheson and her team have achieved, taking the work of the Authority to a new level, mobilising the power of data to help Britain make better decisions about our future.'
Web site: www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk .
All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.