Annual Scottish Government spend on statistical software: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/00844
Date received: 17 March 2018
Date responded: 16 April 2018

Information requested

1. How much money does the Scottish Government spend annually on licenses for statistical software? I believe SAS is the main software in use, but if there are others please give figures for each.

2. Has the Scottish Government given consideration to adopting open source alternatives such as R or Python? If so, what are the reasons for not doing so?


1. SAS is indeed the primary statistical software currently used by Scottish Government statisticians. Other analysts such as social researchers and economists also use SPSS, Stata and NVivo. Scottish Government expenditure on statistical software in 2017/18 was as follows:

SAS: £194,700
SPSS: £3,517
Stata: £2,174
NVivo: £22,184


a. The amounts above include VAT.
b. For SAS and SPSS, the amounts were recurring payments made as part of a contract.
c. The current three-year SAS contract started in 2017/18, and the payment shown above for the first year is substantially higher than those for the following years. The average yearly expenditure for that contract will be £115,316 including VAT.
d. For Stata and NVivo, the amounts were one-off payments for the purchase of new licenses and/or upgrades.

2. Scottish Government analysts use both R and Python. Our statisticians increasingly use R to process data and produce visualisations, such as Shiny apps. The Scottish Government, the National Records of Scotland and NHS National Services Scotland have recently and jointly procured R training for 128 analysts, including 50 Scottish Government analysts. Our analysts also use Python and QGIS for geospatial data analysis.

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