Candidates sought to replace Sir Ian Diamond
The UK Statistics Authority has begun looking for the country’s next national statistician.
The national statistician is the permanent secretary at the Office for National Statistics, chief executive at the UKSA and head of the Government Statistical Service. Candidates are being offered a salary of £150-160,000 per year – the same pay offered to applicants when the job was last advertised three years ago.
Incumbent Sir Ian Diamond, who was appointed in October 2019, saw his time in post dominated by the Covid pandemic, which sparked a boom in public interest in official statistics, and the 2021 census – which was the first to be delivered primarily digitally.
His fixed-term contract ends on 31 March 2023. It is understood he is free to reapply for the role, if he so wishes.
When the role was last advertised, it took two rounds of recruitment to find someone with the right skills.
To support the new process, the Cabinet Office has signed a contract worth up to £75,000 with Korn Ferry. The management consultancy firm will: advise on the job advert, specification and salary; design an advertising strategy; come up with a plan to attract a diverse field of candidates; and produce promotional material.
UKSA chair Sir Robert Chote said the regulator’s board is “grateful” for Diamond’s “outstanding leadership throughout the pandemic, the 2021 census, and the ongoing transformation of the UK’s official statistical system”.
In a foreword to the candidate information pack, Chote said national statistician will need to be “a credible leader of the statistical system who can command the confidence of its members and users alike”.
“They will need to operate confidently at the highest levels of government, but also work effectively with many different stakeholders across the UK. They will need to be outward-facing and an effective communicator,” he added.
UKSA is looking for a candidate who can “develop and deliver a compelling vision for mobilising the power of data for the good of the nation”.
The successful candidate will also need excellent policy and analytical skills, “strong intellect”, a track record as an authority in the field of evidence and analysis, and a “good understanding of the changing digital environment”, the advert said.
Civil service commissioner Gisela Stuart will oversee the process, with help from Chote and civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm.
Government Economic Service chief Clare Lombardelli and Denise Lievesley, a former director of statistics at UNESCO, will also sit on the recruitment panel.
The successful candidate will expected to travel regularly between offices in Newport, Titchfield, London, Darlington and Manchester, plus occasional international trips.
Applications are open until 5 December, with initial interviews to take place to take place between December and February.
Since taking on the role, Diamond has championed the importance of using data to tackle climate change, introducing the UK Climate Change Portal, which has brought climate statistics together in one place for the first time.
Speaking to PublicTechnology in October 2020, Diamond – who was an occasional presenter on Downing Street’s daily televised coronavirus briefings – spoke of the crucial role played by statistics in supporting pandemic response.
“It is incredibly important to get the best data, in the most timely way, to government, to [help them] make decisions,” he said. “But it is also important that the public – who are being asked to make profound behavioural changes – are informed as well.”