COMMISSION STATISTIQUE et COMMISSION ECONOMIQUE POUR L'EUROPE APPLICATION DES PRINCIPES FONDAMENTAUX DE LA STATISTIQUE OFFICIELLE

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1 NATIONS UNIES E Conseil Economique Distr. RESTREINTE CES/1997/R.6 * 15 janvier 1997 FRANCAIS Original : ANGLAIS COMMISSION STATISTIQUE et COMMISSION ECONOMIQUE POUR L'EUROPE CONFERENCE DES STATISTICIENS EUROPEENS Quarante-cinquième session plénière (Genève, juin 1997) APPLICATION DES PRINCIPES FONDAMENTAUX DE LA STATISTIQUE OFFICIELLE I. Introduction 1. Les principes fondamentaux ont été arrêtés par la Conférence des statisticiens européens à sa session plénière de 1992 et adoptés ensuite par les deux organes dont elle relève : la Commission économique pour l'europe et la Commission de statistique des Nations Unies (en 1994). Lors de leur adoption par la Conférence, il a été envisagé d'examiner leur application à intervalles de trois ans environ. 2. Sachant que le FMI, Eurostat et l'ocde ont utilisé ces principes, le Bureau a prié le secrétariat de rédiger un document fondé sur les contributions fournies par ces trois organisations, qu'il examinerait à sa réunion d'octobre Le Bureau déciderait alors si une version convenablement modifiée du document devait être présentée pour examen à la session plénière de Les principes fondamentaux sont reproduits au paragraphe 4 ci-après. L'expérience acquise dans ce domaine par les trois organisations est brièvement résumée dans les paragraphes 5 à 14 et le texte complet de chacune de leur contribution forme les annexes. * La version française de ce document a été réimprimée du fait que les annexes ont été omises par inadvertance dans la version initiale (ces annexes existent également en version anglaise).

2 page 2 II. Texte des principes fondamentaux 4. Décision C (47), adoptée par la Commission économique pour l'europe à sa session de 1992 : La Commission économique pour l'europe, Considérant que l'information statistique officielle est une base indispensable pour le développement dans les domaines économique, démographique, social et de l'environnement ainsi que pour la connaissance mutuelle et les échanges entre les Etats et les peuples de la région, Considérant que la nécessaire confiance du public dans l'information statistique officielle repose dans une large mesure sur le respect des valeurs et des principes fondamentaux sur lesquels est fondée toute société démocratique désireuse de se connaître elle-même et de respecter les droits de ses membres, Considérant que la qualité de la statistique officielle et, par conséquent, celle de l'information mise à la disposition des administrations publiques, du secteur économique et du public dépend dans une large mesure de la collaboration qu'apportent les citoyens, les entreprises et d'autres répondants en fournissant des données appropriées pour l'établissement des statistiques nécessaires, Rappelant les normes et les dispositions générales adoptées en ce sens dans la Convention européenne des droits de l'homme, la Convention du 28 janvier 1991 du Conseil de l'europe pour la protection des personnes à l'égard du traitement automatisé des données à caractère personnel, l'acte final de la Conférence d'helsinki sur la sécurité et la coopération en Europe, la Déclaration finale de la Conférence de Bonn sur la coopération économique en Europe, ainsi que la Charte de Paris pour une nouvelle Europe, Rappelant les efforts déployés par les organisations gouvernementales et non gouvernementales s'occupant de statistique pour élaborer des normes et des concepts permettant les comparaisons entre les pays, Rappelant également la Déclaration d'éthique professionnelle de l'institut international de statistique, Ayant pris connaissance du consensus qui s'est dégagé au sein de la Conférence des statisticiens européens quant à l'opportunité de définir les principes devant régir les activités des organismes responsables de la statistique officielle dans la région et dans les Etats membres, Adopte la présente résolution : GE (F)

3 page 3 1. La statistique officielle constitue un élément indispensable du système d'information d'une société démocratique, fournissant aux administrations publiques, au secteur économique et au public des données concernant la situation économique, démographique et sociale et la situation de l'environnement. A cette fin, des organismes responsables de la statistique officielle doivent établir les statistiques officielles selon un critère d'utilisation pratique et les rendre disponibles, en toute impartialité, en vue de rendre effectif le droit d'accès des citoyens à l'information publique. 2. Pour que se maintienne la confiance dans l'information statistique officielle, les organismes responsables de la statistique doivent déterminer, en fonction de considérations purement professionnelles, notamment de principes scientifiques et de règles déontologiques, les méthodes et les procédures de collecte, de traitement, de stockage et de présentation des données statistiques. 3. Pour faciliter une interprétation correcte des données, les organismes responsables de la statistique doivent fournir, en fonction de normes scientifiques, des informations sur les sources, les méthodes et les procédures qu'ils utilisent. 4. Les organismes responsables de la statistique ont le droit de faire des observations sur les interprétations erronées et les usages abusifs des statistiques. 5. Les données utilisées à des fins statistiques peuvent être tirées de toutes sortes de sources, qu'il s'agisse d'enquêtes statistiques ou de fichiers administratifs. Les organismes responsables de la statistique doivent choisir leur source en tenant compte de la qualité des données qu'elle peut fournir, de leur actualité, des coûts et de la charge qui pèse sur les répondants. 6. Les données individuelles collectées pour l'établissement des statistiques par les organismes qui en ont la responsabilité, qu'elles concernent des personnes physiques ou des personnes morales, doivent être strictement confidentielles et ne doivent être utilisées qu'à des fins statistiques. 7. Les textes législatifs et réglementaires et toutes dispositions régissant le fonctionnement des systèmes statistiques doivent être portés à la connaissance du public. 8. A l'intérieur de chaque pays, il est essentiel que les activités des différents organismes responsables de la statistique soient coordonnées pour assurer la cohérence et l'efficacité du système statistique. 9. L'utilisation par les organismes responsables de la statistique de chaque pays des concepts, classifications et méthodes définis à l'échelon international favorise la cohérence et l'efficacité des systèmes statistiques à tous les niveaux officiels.

4 page La coopération bilatérale et multilatérale dans le domaine de la statistique contribue à l'amélioration des systèmes d'élaboration des statistiques officielles dans tous les pays. La Conférence des statisticiens européens examinera, à intervalles de trois ans au maximum, les principes énoncés ci-dessus, étudiera les moyens de contribuer à leur application et adressera un rapport sur la question à la Commission (E/1992/32, par. 123). L'expérience du FMI, d'eurostat et de l'ocde 5. Le Fonds monétaire international a souscrit résolument aux principes fondamentaux et les utilise le plus souvent possible comme base de référence aussi bien dans ses relations avec les pays membres que pour ses propres activités multilatérales. Il veille à ce que leur application s'étende à toute une série de travaux réalisés avec ses membres. 6. La norme spéciale de diffusion des données qu'il a établie pour guider ses pays membres dans la publication des statistiques économiques et financières inclut les dimensions suivantes, reprises directement des principes fondamentaux : - Champ d'application - Périodicité et délai de diffusion - Accessibilité - Intégrité - Qualité 7. Le FMI, comme d'autres organisations internationales, a aussi contribué directement à l'application des principes fondamentaux par l'élaboration et la publication de concepts internationaux ainsi qu'à la coopération bilatérale et multilatérale. 8. Eurostat s'est appuyé sur les principes fondamentaux pour établir ses règles et procédures propres (voir l'annexe) et a encouragé l'application des principes dans ses pays membres et dans l'espace économique européen. 9. Par ailleurs, Eurostat a encouragé et aidé activement les pays en transition à mettre en oeuvre les principes fondamentaux et à les incorporer dans leur législation régissant les systèmes statistiques; il a organisé des séminaires sur ce sujet pour les pays en transition de la région. 10. Un règlement du Conseil sur les statistiques communautaires (appelé aussi "loi statistique" communautaire), est en cours d'examen; il comporte un chapitre consacré spécialement aux principes fondamentaux. Une fois complété par une décision de la Commission sur le rôle d'eurostat dans la production des statistiques communautaires, il éclaircira les fonctions d'eurostat en ce qui concerne ces principes. 11. L'OCDE, dont la composition n'avait pas changé depuis une vingtaine d'années, a examiné récemment les demandes d'adhésion de plusieurs pays et

5 page 5 s'est servi des principes fondamentaux pour évaluer les systèmes statistiques des candidats. 12. A cette occasion, l'ocde a noté que les candidats avaient remarquablement bien suivi les principes fondamentaux dans l'élaboration de leurs législation et procédures statistiques. 13. L'annexe concernant l'ocde mentionne certaines différences d'ordre pratique et théorique observées selon que les principes sont appliqués par les pays ou par divers types d'organismes internationaux. 14. On trouvera dans les annexes au présent document des précisions sur l'expérience du FMI, d'eurostat et de l'ocde ainsi que le texte des principes fondamentaux de la statistique officielle

6 Annex I page 6 Annex I Implementation of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics The IMF has given its strong endorsement to the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and has actively used them as a point of reference in its relations with member countries as well as our terms of its multilateral responsibilities. Promotion by the IMF of the implementation of the Fundamental Principles by countries encompasses a broad range of work with member countries. 1. The IMF's surveillance responsibilities In its regular review of the economic policies of its member countries, the IMF is dependant on the provision by members of timely, accurate, and good quality economic and financial statistics. For these purposes, close attention has been given to the ability of member countries to meet the key features of the Fundamental Principles, particularly as regards the use of agreed methods and procedures for the collection and presentation of statistical data, transparency with respect to the laws and regulations under which the statistical systems operate, and the promotion of international concepts, classifications and methods. With respect to the last mentioned feature, the IMF has itself been a major contributor through the development of methodologies in balance of payments, government finance, and monetary and financial statistics. 2. Technical assistance Since the late 1960s, the IMF has been actively involved in providing technical assistance to its member countries in balance of payments, money and banking, and government finance statistics, in all cases helping countries implement international methodologies and standards, and to develop compilation practices suited to their circumstances. This programme has included training, on-site missions, and seminars. In the late 1980s, the programme was adapted to meet the needs of the countries of the former Soviet Union and other command economies as they entered their transition towards becoming market economies. As a result of this effort, the IMF's technical assistance program was expanded to include consumer price statistics and quarterly national accounts, and its form amended to include a broader focus on multisector and coordination issues. On the side of training and seminars, this experience let to a greater focus on a regional approach, both

7 Annex I page 7 on the selection of issues and of participants from countries facing broadly similar issues. In the material used on training courses and in the reports of on-site missions, emphasis has always been placed on their relevance to the implementation of the Fundamental Principles. 3. Data dissemination standards The international financial crisis of late 1994 and early 1995, centred on Mexico, drew attention in an almost unprecedented way to the needs of policy makers and national and international financial markets for accurate and timely economic and financial statistics. In responding to this crisis, ministers of finance, in the context of the Interim Committee of the IMF's Board of Governors, have promoted important initiatives on two fronts that mark a new phase in the development of national and international economic and financial statistics. The steps that have been set in train are closely related. First, for the purpose of strengthening the IMF's continuous surveillance over the economic and financial policies of its member countries - including through the so-called Article IV consultation process - efforts are being made to improve the provision of data to the IMF. Second, recognizing the important and growing role of the financial markets in the international financial system, increasing the transparency of national economic performance has been accorded a high priority. For this purpose, the IMF was given the task of developing standards for the dissemination of economic and financial data by countries to the public. These standards are being prepared after a wide ranging round of consultations with country statistical authorities, international organizations and private sector users of data and are aimed at encouraging countries to take steps to meet the need for better statistics on four broad fronts - coverage, periodicity and timeliness of statistics, access by the public, the integrity of statistics, and the quality of statistics. It should be recognized that these six attributes are directly taken from the Fundamental Principles, and applied in a way to make them relevant to the specific needs of users with whom the INF has been intermediating. The standards, which consist of a general standard to be applied to all IMF member countries and a special, or more demanding, standard to which countries accessing or seeking the capital markets are invited to subscribe on a voluntary basis, will require a concerted and sustained effort to achieve needed improvements in dissemination practices. By its subscription to the special standard, a country will make public its commitment to the standards, and the information pertaining to its subscription (the metadata) will be posted on an electronic bulletin board to be maintained by the IMF. A transition period of some two and one-half years' duration will allow countries to make needed improvements in their

8 Annex I page 8 statistical systems to meet the requirements of the special standards before the end of The timetable requires that IMF to develop the requirements of the general standard by the end of 1996.

9 Annex II page 9 Annex II Eurostat's use of the fundamental principles of official statistics This note concentrates on the use of the principles by Eurostat itself, but it will also refer to the use of the principles within the European Statistical System (ESS), the network of statistical agencies at Community, national and regional levels, of which Eurostat is the core. [The ESS is a system of the European Economic Area (EEA) and therefore includes the countries of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.] To the best of our knowledge these principles are applied in the Member States. Eurostat, in its co-operation with the countries in transition in Eastern and Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union, encourages the application of these principles in these countries and gives advice on how they can be incorporated in statistical legislation. In addition periodic seminars concerning the principles are organised (eg in Poland, 1993, and in Lithuania, 1996). At the time of writing (November 1996) a proposal for a Council Regulation on Community Statistics, also known as the Community "Statistical Law", is currently under discussion in Council. The Fundamental Principles are enshrined in this proposal in a chapter of its own called "Principles". This, when complemented by a Commission Decision on the role of Eurostat as regards the production of Community Statistics, will go some way towards defining Eurostat's role vis-à-vis the principles. Detailed comments on the principles themselves are as follows: 1. Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a demographic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour citizens' entitlement to public information. Eurostat's mission statement is "to provide the European Union with a high quality statistical information service". The "European Union" is interpreted as meaning the institutions of the Community, the governments and the citizens.

10 Annex II page 10 Eurostat data is made available to the public by means of press notices, publications and statistical documents. Regular statistical series are published according to a rolling timetable. All publications and statistical documents are sent to the Cabinet of the Commissioner responsible for Eurostat for his information. On those containing factual comments on the data published, the Cabinet may suggest changes to avoid them going further than such a factual analysis. It is understood that they may only comment on the accompanying text not on the statistics themselves. The time they have to do so depends on the kind of document: for regular press releases or publications (statistical documents as well), one full working day; ad hoc press releases or short publications, five working days and around two weeks for other publications. 2. To retain trust in official statistics, the statistical agencies need to decide according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data. and 3. To facilitate a correct interpretation of data, the statistical agencies are to present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of the statistics. The draft Commission Decision on the Community authority in charge of Statistics confirms to Eurostat the responsibility for the selection of scientific techniques, definitions and methodologies best suited to the production of Community statistics. 4. The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics. Eurostat is not aware of any obstacles in this area. 5. Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Statistical agencies are to choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on respondents. The current draft of the Community Statistical Law states that national authorities and Eurostat should have access to administrative data to the extent that the data is necessary for the production of Community statistics

11 Annex II page 11 in order to reduce the burden on respondents, while the details of implementation are to some extent subject to national practice. 6. Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes. Eurostat does not collect any statistics directly from its own inquiries; this is the job of the statistical authorities in the Member States who are responsible for the application of confidentiality. Once confidential data is passed to Eurostat it becomes subject to Council Regulation 1588/90 on the transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality which states, in Article 5, that confidential statistical data transmitted to the Eurostat shall be accessible only to Eurostat personnel and may be used by them exclusively for statistical purposes. It is furthermore stated that all the necessary regulatory, administrative, technical and organisations measures to ensure the confidentiality of statistical data transmitted to Eurostat have to be taken (Article 4). These measures are laid down in the Manual on the Protection of Confidential data in Eurostat which was drawn up in collaboration with the Committee of Statistical Confidentiality established by Council Regulation 1588/90 and is composed of the representatives of Member States. According to the Community Statistical Law, the same standards apply to Community statistics implemented at the national level. 7. The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public. All legislation of the European Communities is published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Member States' statistical legislation is also published. 8. Co-ordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system. Eurostat has very close links with the statistical operators in the Member States, be they the statistical institutes themselves or official statisticians working elsewhere.

12 Annex II page 12 There are around a dozen committees in statistics that meet regularly and some 80 working groups. In all around 200 meetings with official statisticians in the Member States are held each year. 9. The use by statistical agencies in each country of international concepts, classifications and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels. Eurostat agrees strongly that the use of accepted international standards and methods etc is essential to produce harmonised statistics. To this end the standards applicable in the EU (eg ESA-95, NACE Rev 1) are fully consistent with the global equivalents (eg SNA-93, ISIC Rev 3). 10. Bilateral and multilateral co-operation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries. Eurostat is active in the field of technical co-operation in statistics, particularly in the Eastern and Central European Countries, the countries of the Former Soviet Union and countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions covered by the Lomé Convention. Recent initiatives have also commenced in the Mediterranean region, Mercosur and China. Close co-ordination with other donor agencies, both national and international, is considered to be essential.

13 Annex III page 13 Annex III The Use in OECD of the ECE Ten Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics Obligations for Present and Future OECD Member Countries 1. OECD's membership has been stable between 1975 and In 1994, Mexico joined the Organisation as its 25th Member, followed by the Czech Republic in 1995 and Hungary and Poland in The membership application by Korea and the Slovak Republic are currently (July 1996) being examined by the appropriate bodies. Four other countries have formally applied for, and 8 more formally expressed their interest in, OECD membership, but no schedule has been set up yet for setting the accession procedures beyond the applications of Korea and the Slovak Republic respectively. 2. The end result of examining an accession request is an invitation by unanimous decision of the Council, the highest OECD organ, to the applicant country to join the organisation as a new Member. Membership becomes effective when the new member country deposits the ratification of the accession with the French government. The substantial part of the examination of applications takes place previously in the committees, the subject area related subsidiary bodies of the Council, by assessing whether the applicant country is able and willing to respect the OECD acts (decisions; recommendations; declarations; agreements) in force. 3. The nature of these acts can best be characterised as "soft law". New acts can only be created if no Member country objects, and if a country abstains at Council level it will be exempted from implementing the act. Many acts include country specific transition periods or limitations of scope, and for most acts, countries may delete or add (with due notice and justification) such limitations. Peer reviews, but no dispute settlement mechanisms or even courts, monitor the observance of such acts by Member countries. 4. The brief description given above explains why accession is {de facto}the only instance where compliance with OECD acts can be made part of a package of obligations. The Committees carefully review the legislation and practice of applicant countries in their respective areas. Committees may push applicant countries for commitments to change their legislation as a condition for membership, with a set of exceptions that has to be acceptable to everybody else.

14 Annex III page 14 Statistics as Part of Membership Obligations and Accession Procedures 5. Except for some few very specialised statistics in the area of resource flows to developing countries and environment, collection of statistical data with Member countries is not based on any of the above OECD acts. It is based directly on Article 3 of the Convention of the OECD (the basic agreement of 1960 by which the OECD was established as the successor organisation to the OEEC), in which "the Members agree that they will... furnish the organisation with the information necessary for the accomplishment of its tasks". However, this obligation applies only to information (including statistics) which is already available at the level of national administrations or can be easily generated therefrom. The article is not sufficient for requesting national administrations of Member countries to establish new data collections. 6. When the recent wave of accession started, some internal users, notably the Economics Department, were anxious to know whether the accession countries would be able to provide the organisation with the statistics necessary for its analytical activities. Since the production and transmission of statistics was not generally included in OECD acts, this aspect risked falling outside the assessment process. When the Council decided on the accession procedure for Korea in May 1995, it requested the Secretariat (in the absence of a permanent body in charge of statistics which could have assumed a role equivalent to the committees in other subject areas) to: a) examine the legal and institutional framework for statistics and their conformity with the principles applied in OECD countries; b) assess the quality of the data available and their comparability with data available in OECD countries; c) ensure the applicant countries' integration in the Organisation's reporting and information system upon accession. The above elements were applied to all five countries for which an examination process was either under way or due to start in 1995 (Mexico having become a Member already in 1994). 7. Concerning the legal and institutional framework for statistics, the Ten Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics in the Region of the ECE adopted in 1992 were an obvious reference, in view of the fact that four out of the five accession countries came from this region, and that the UN

15 Annex III page 15 Statistical Commission had subsequently endorsed, in 1994, the application of these principles at world level. Paragraphs 8 to 19 deal with how the examination concerning para. 6 letter a) above was carried out, and with its findings, in the context of three countries acceding to OECD Membership. This paper will however not go into any further detail concerning letters b) and c) of the same paragraph, which were considerably more resource intensive to deal with. 8. The first step in preparing the assessment of the legal and institutional framework was a careful examination of the basic statistic law and any other horizontal legislation specific to official statistics in the country concerned, for which a version translated by the respective NSO had to be established. On the base of this, a list of questions was prepared and sent to the country concerning the following issues: a) a legal specification apparently contradicts one of the fundamental principles; b) the legislation is silent about one of the fundamental principles stating obligations; c) a fundamental principle is addressed in the legislation, but it is unclear whether all official statistics are covered; d) practical mechanisms for ensuring {de facto}compliance with the principles, whether they are explicitly addressed in the legislation or not; e) any other relevant issue resulting from the law but not directly related to the fundamental principles (but potentially relevant for "best practice"); f) relationship of the statistical legislation to other legislation affecting official statistics (notably data protection laws). 9. The above questions were answered by the senior management and the legal expert of the NSO on the occasion of a visit by senior staff from the OECD Statistics Directorate in the capital of the respective country, which for some items was followed by further questions and replies during the same visit. Sometimes the discussion showed that it can be problematic to interpret a piece of legislation without being familiar with the legal and institutional framework of the national administration at large. In some

16 Annex III page 16 cases, potential issues turned out to be simply non-existent because of inadequate terminology used in the translated version of the legislation. Summary results of the Examination of Three New Member Countries 10. The process described above was carried out and completed for three new Member countries between autumn 1995 and spring It was very encouraging to find that their framework for official statistics fully meets the requirements of the ten fundamental principles. This result was even more remarkable given that these countries had to go through a difficult period of complete overhaul of the statistical system involving, in addition to the ethics and basic objectives of official statistics as expressed in the ten fundamental principles, major conceptual, methodological, technology, management and other resource issues. Consequently, the basic statistical legislation of these three countries underwent substantial or even complete revision shortly before the examination took place. The result shows that credibility in the integrity of the institutions producing official statistics is considered to be essential for the users' acceptance of results as being unbiased and for respondents to provide adequate input information, and that this credibility can only be built up by strict adherence to these principles, notably concerning independence, impartial dissemination, transparency and confidentiality, which are laid down at the level of a law enacted by Parliament and with binding force for all levels of government. 11. As regards the first of the issues mentioned in para. 8 above, there was only one article in a statistical law which seemed to openly contradict one of the fundamental principles (confidentiality). The scope of the article was defined in terms of another law, and it turned out to be an article which could be used only in favour of a person concerned and never against him or her, so that {de facto}there was no infringement of the confidentiality principle. 12. Concerning para 8 letter b), the fundamental principles on which laws were most often silent (excluding for this consideration the fourth principle, which addresses a possibility for the NSO, but not an obligation) concerned the third principle on making information on methods publicly accessible, and the last part of the fifth principle, which asks for consideration of response burden. Concerning the latter, discussion and decision-making on statistical programmes do, {de facto}, involve representatives of respondents, notably from enterprises, e.g. in Statistical Committees/Statistical Councils established by the respective laws. As regards the former, the three countries acknowledged the necessity of making their questionnaires, definitions and methods of compilation publicly

17 Annex III page 17 accessible. This information was not yet available in printed form for all statistics, given the considerable amount of recent modifications, but interested users would be properly informed on request until the catching up on methodological publications will be completed. 13. The scope of application of certain articles was the issue that required most time in the assessment. The part of official statistics produced in the NSO was fully covered by articles on the independence of the NSO, the need for strictly professional considerations when deciding on methods, the obligation to make results publicly accessible and the absence of political interference in the dissemination process, and the protection of confidentiality. Except for confidentiality, it was not clear from the law, however, how much official statistics produced outside the NSOs were governed by the same principles, either legally or {de facto}. In some cases, all statistics included in the national statistical programme were addressed by these principles, but the scope of the programme sometimes left out some statistics as well (e.g. those based on administrative data sources as opposed to surveys, or those based on non-compulsory surveys). 14. It is evident that in all statistical systems the NSOs have to assume a leadership role as regards the compliance with these principles. The behaviour of other producers is not irrelevant for the credibility and integrity of the system as a whole, however, especially in the case of countries for which adherence to some of these principles is a relatively new characteristic. There were some indications that producers outside the NSO did not show great knowledge of either the ECE principles or the corresponding articles in the national legislation, or did not feel addressed by them in respect of their own production. It is important for the NSO to take up a kind of educational role in this respect, and to recall the importance of these principles to these other producers in their frequent contacts with them on practical issues of co-ordination. The IMF dissemination standards, which includes specifications on integrity and covers statistics produced in Central Banks or Ministries of Finance in many countries, will be very helpful in this respect. Furthermore, the Statistical Committees or Councils referred to in para. 12 can also assume an important role for this purpose. As a last resort, there is in each law an explicit possibility for the NSO to access the basic data of other producers and to process and disseminate the data on behalf of official statistics if the responsible agency, for whatever reason, is not able to carry out this task in a way that is compatible with the principles. Given this possible remedy, the legal and institutional frameworks were accepted as complying with the principles in spite of some gaps in direct applicability of important articles to the entire range of official statistics.

18 Annex III page The most important issue concerning para. 8 letter d) was the practical ways of ensuring absence of interference in the compilation and dissemination of results, and the degree of {de facto}independence of the NSO in this respect. The information given showed that NSOs had been successful in achieving sufficient arms length from governments and ministries to be able to function in line with this principle. Users, respondents and media were also observing the behaviour of the NSO very closely, and the debate in parliaments about the new statistical legislation also helped to increase the awareness. 16. As regards para 8 letter e), most questions concerned the co-ordination instruments and mechanisms between the NSO and other producers, and the role, legal status and flexibility of the statistical programme. Concerning the issue of using administrative sources as one important way to reduce response burden, all laws included a provision giving the NSO appropriate access to administrative data for statistical purposes, with some limitations for fiscal data in one case. 17. Confidentiality regulations for statistics were fully in line with the corresponding principle, and at the same time not disproportionate in view of the special characteristics of statistical files with individual data, but without direct identifiers. A potential problem, which could not be examined in detail, is however the relationship of the confidentiality regulations in the statistical laws to the more generally applicable rules of the data protection laws where such laws existed already. If the latter fails to make explicit reference to data collected for statistics or similar purposes unrelated to decisions on individual persons or economic units, it is a question of interpretation which law takes precedence in the case of conflict. If precedence is given to the general data protection rules, rules originally designed for administrative data like obligations on the information to be provided to respondents, rights of inspection and correction, or barriers to use and transmit statistical microdata for research purposes, would then become applicable to statistical files as well, overriding the more tailor-made articles in the statistical law. This risk could be closed by clarifying the relationship between the two laws in an unambiguous way. 18. In general, the ten principles (with the possible exception of the fourth, as mentioned in para. 12) proved to be a concise and almost complete grid for examining basic statistical legislation and its implementation. It was encouraging to find, e.g. that the use of international standards and international co-operation in statistics was explicitly addressed in all three laws. The recent revisions of the laws had certainly been greatly

19 Annex III page 19 inspired by the ten fundamental principles, and it is remarkable to see that all countries did not simply repeat these principles as part of their statistical laws, but made the effort to translate them through fairly elaborate legal texts into an effective institutional framework which would guarantee that the statistical system {de facto}operates accordingly. 19. In view of the positive findings after the thorough discussions in capitals, the Statistics Directorate included a paragraph in the document submitted to the Council on each accession country, stating that the institutional and legal frameworks for official statistics in the countries examined were in full compliance with the ten fundamental principles for official statistics. Potential Use of the Fundamental Principles for the Statistical Work of International Organisations 20. Credibility and integrity of official statistics is not confined to national producers. In view of the growing importance of international and supranational organisations in the production and dissemination of statistics (in addition to their role as standard setters), and in due regard of the sometimes forgotten but rather obvious principle that one should follow, in one's own sphere of responsibility, the rules which one recommends others to follow, it is certainly appropriate to raise the question of applicability of the ten fundamental principles to the statistical work carried out within international organisations. 21. Organisations which consider themselves to be only a user of statistics would almost certainly not feel addressed by the fundamental principles. Most international organisations started to collect statistics for the internal information purposes of their organisation (the article of the OECD Convention referred to in para. 5 is a good example of this), and not for acting as a producer and disseminator of statistical products. This latter function has first become a useful by-product and then grown into a regular production of international statistics similar to what is done in official statistics at national level, but without covering the whole range of statistical information available for the internal purposes of the organisation and sometimes with substantial delays in making the information available to a large audience. 22. Statistical products released by intergovernmental organisations will be perceived by the public as equivalent to official statistics at national level, not necessarily as regards quality and comparability, but at least as regards the confidence in the unbiased nature of the figures and the strictly

20 Annex III page 20 professional standards applied. The selective accessibility of data and metadata, as well as the fact that specific regulations that govern statistical activities in these organisations may not exist, be vague or remain internal, makes it difficult for the sceptical user in the public sphere to substantiate whether this analogy is well founded in all cases. 23. As long as international organisations merely re-use data, without modifications, which they collect (directly or indirectly) from official statistics in countries where the fundamental principles are observed, any figure or meta-information not made publicly accessible by the international organisation itself would at least be accessible at national level. This is not to deny the great value added provided by international organisations through assembling and presenting in a coherent format and language data and metadata from different countries, but being selective as regards dissemination is, in this case, not so much a matter of ethical standards as of providing a good service to outside users. 24. The situation changes when international organisations modify the data collected (e.g. in order to bring them more in line with international standards), or when they derive complex indicators from one or different sets of data, thus producing, and partly disseminating, new statistical information. While the methodological information is normally included in any product which is disseminated, it is far from sure whether all results (except those subject to statistical confidentiality) generated in this way are generally accessible in one form or another, and whether the time dimension of the impartiality in dissemination is respected, given the priority for internal over external users. The unreleased part of this type of information cannot be obtained from national producers, who, if they have access to the results at all, cannot redisseminate them outside the national administration. It is in this area of decisions on what part of international statistics newly generated by international organisation is published, when and how, that a potential application of the fundamental principles to international organisations is likely to be most relevant. 25. Decisions on dissemination by international organisations are based on a mixture of professional, economic/technical and sometimes legal/institutional considerations. If statistics produced by international organisations have serious professional shortcomings, an organisation trying to be in line with the principles has the choice not to make such data available at all (neither to internal nor external users), or to make them accessible to everybody, but associated with enough guidelines on the limits of inference. The frequent practice of making low-quality or provisional data available to internal, but not to external users may be incoherent with the principles. The same holds

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