ONS moves more questionnaires online

Government’s statistics organisation claims significant progress in Data Collection Transformation Programme

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has stepped up its use of online questionnaires in gathering information for various surveys.

Close-up of fingers on keyboardJason Bradbury, director of the organisation’s Data Collection Transformation Programme, said it has made four major surveys 100% digital since the beginning of the year and is aiming to add another to the list in the coming months.

Outlining the changes in an ONS blogpost, he said the first major move was made in January by taking the Retail Sales Inquiry (RSI) online. This began with invitations to 5,000 retailers, and has now reached 54,000.

This has been followed by three more surveys becoming completely digital: the Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey; the Quarterly Business Survey; and the UK Innovation Survey.

Bradbury said the latter, carried out every two years, often struggles to get a good response rate, but that the digital approach has already produced close to 40% returns.

New moves

ONS has followed this by sending invitations to households to respond to the Labour Force Survey online, and is now planning to take a similar approach to the Social Survey Data Collection.

Bradbury said there there have not been any statistical issues in the change, and that the outputs have been compiled and produced as normal.

“Put simply, the easier it is for someone to complete our surveys, the more likely they are to take the time to provide more detailed accurate data,” he said. “It is worth noting that once a business has an account with ONS they often send back data to us quicker.”

He added that the Digital Economy Act, which was passed in April, will enable ONS to make greater use of new data sources and better target questions.

Image by Andy Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr