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Session 4a: The National Statistical Office, the National Statistics Act

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Session 4a: The National
Statistical Office and the National
Statistics Act
SADC Course in Statistics
Introduction
• This session focuses on the National Statistical
Office and the National Statistics Act
• The development of the lecture is premised on the
understanding that students are now aware of the
National Statistical System, what it is? and its
constituent components.
• Students should also be reminded that the
National Statistical Office is at the centre of the
National Statistical System of any country, playing
a coordination, regulatory and supervisory role in
addition to collecting and disseminating Official
Statistics.
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What is a National Statistical Office?
• It is an official organisation responsible for the
collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination
of all official data relating to the economic and
social activities of a country.
• It is usually created by an Act of Parliament.
• It may be a government department within the
Civil Service but the trend nowadays is that most
NSOs are operating as stand alone institutions
with some form of independence and autonomy
from Government.
• In some countries the National Statistical Office is
called the Central Statistical Office, Bureau of
Statistics or the National Bureau of Statistics.
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What are the functions of the NSO?
• The functions of a National Statistical Office are
defined by the Statistics Act either by direct
mention of the organisation/agency/bureau or by
the duties assigned to the head of the
agency/office/bureau.
• In general, the law list the following as main
functions of the NSO:
– conducting a Population & Housing Census after
every 10 years
– collecting, compiling, analyzing and
disseminating statistical information
– developing and promoting standards &
methodologies
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What are the functions of the NSO? – cont’d
– developing & maintaining a Central Business
Register
• In summary, its primary function is to provide
Government Ministries and Departments, NonGovernmental Organisations and members of the
public in general, with information for monitoring,
evaluation and formulation of development plans
and programmes.
• It performs this function through the collection,
processing and analysis of data; reporting and
dissemination of results through publications,
reports, workshop and seminars.
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The structure of a National Statistical Office
• The structure of the NSO varies depending on the
status of the organisation.
• If still under civil service, the office is headed by a
Director/Government Statistician (usually
appointed by Government) who reports to a
Minister responsible for statistics. This could be
the Ministries of Finance/Planning/Economic
Development.
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Structure of the National Statistical Office – cont’d
• If the office is out of Civil Service, it is headed by
a Director General/Statistician General, who in
turn reports to a Board of Directors/Statistics
Council whose main function is to ensure that
good corporate governance is practised in the
organisation.
• In such instances, the Director General/
Statistician General is the Chief Executive Officer
and the Chief Operating Officer of the organisation
and his/her function is to provide a link between
the organisation and the Board of
Directors/Statistics Council.
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Structure of the National Statistical Office – cont’d
• The National Statistical Office has offices at
Provincial and District level. The Provincial Office
reports to the Head Office, while the District Office
reports directly to the Provincial Office.
• Depending on the country in question, Provincial
Offices are headed by a Statistician/Statistical
Officer and District Offices are headed by a Team
Leader.
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What is the Act?
• All National Statistical Offices are governed by
statistics acts that give them wide ranging powers
of collection, compilation and dissemination of
official statistics.
• At the time when this module was developed, one
salient observation made, was that most of the
Statistics Acts of the SADC member states were
outdated with some of them have been formulated
in the 1960s, e.g. Zambia’s is of 1964, Malawi
1967, Botswana 1967, Namibia 1976.
• Most countries worldwide are in the process of
updating their Statistics Acts and SADC as a
region is no exception.
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What is the Act? – cont’d
• Some countries have modern Statistics Acts e.g.
South Africa (1999), Mauritius (2000). Lesotho
(2001) and Zimbabwe (2007), just to mention a
few.
• In general the Act contains the following salient
features, among other things:
• Functions of the NSO
• Powers of NSO.
• Responsibilities of the Director, Statistician
General or Government Statistician
• Confidentiality and disclosure
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What is the Act? – cont’d
• New statistics acts contain, besides those outlined
above, the following:
• Definition of the National Statistical System
• Provision for more effective coordination of
the National Statistical System
• Composition and Powers of the Board of
Directors/ Statistics Council
• Special responsibilities of the
Board./Statistics Council
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What does a National Statistical Office produce?
• A National Statistical Office produces Official
Statistics or National Statistics
• These can be economic, social and demographic
statistics
• There are produced in various forms e.g. as
reports, publications, ad-hoc reports, CD-ROM or
posted on the National Statistical Office’s website
for ease of access
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What are Official Statistics?
• Not all statistics are defined as Official
• Statistics are defined as Official if they are:
– sustainable
– relevant, and,
– meet certain quality standards
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The quality of Official Statistics
• Official statistics should satisfy the following quality
requirements:
• relevance – statistics should meet current and future needs
of users.
• methodological soundness – collection and handling of
statistics must be guided by internationally accepted
standards, principles, guidelines or good practice
• timeliness – there should be a minimum time lag between
data collection and the release of information so as to
maximise on the usefulness of official statistics.
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The quality of Official Statistics – cont’d
• accessibility – this refers to the extent to
which statistics are available to users and
how they are assisted to get and use
statistics.
• integrity and credibility
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What is the role of Official Statistics?
Official Statistics are used for a variety of purposes:
• measure the pulse of the economy thus allowing
one to make comparisons with the past, with
other countries and set benchmarks for the future.
In fact, they provide a meaningful description of
the economy.
• facilitate the decision making processes of
businesses and individuals. Businesses make
investment and employment decisions on the
basis of Official Statistics. They support decision
making processes by the wider community.
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What is the role of Official Statistics? –cont’d
• policy formulation, implementation and evaluation
by the Government
• resource allocation and targeting – statistics helps
in identifying people and regions in need and allow
authorities to make and implement timely
interventions.
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Sources
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Information on National Statistical Systems
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/inter-natlinks/sd_natstat.asp
How the National Statistics System Impacts on Service Delivery, Service
Delivery Review, Volume 1, No 3, 2002. South Africa
http://www.dpsa.gov.za/documents/service_delivery_review/vol1no3/how
%20the%20national%20statistics%20system%20impacts%20on%20servi
ce%20delivery.pdf
Paris21: Why Governments need good statistics?
http://www.paris21.org/documents/why-governments-need-goodstatistics.pdf
National Strategies for the Development of Statistics and their Expected
Impact on Agricultural and Rural Statistics. Mr. Graham Eele, World Bank,
United Kingdom
http://www.nass.usda.gov/mexsai/Papers/strategiesp.doc
National Strategy for the Development of Statistics, Paris21, Documents
and Knowledge base
http://www.paris21.org/pages/designing-nsds/NSDS-documentsknowledgebase/index.asp?orderby=e&orderin=1&tab=KnowledgeBase&option=doc
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