The Central Statistical office (CSO) is often criticised for having for its dinosaur-era practices. When data is available, it’s outdated and the process to get it is extremely slow. The CSO has also been criticised for having outdated equipment. T&T Government and Sweden finalised a contract on February 2 to help modernise and restructure T&T’s CSO. The contract was signed between the Ministry of Public Administration and Statistics Sweden, a government agency that provides statistics.Statistics Sweden will help the Government perform a study on the supply and demand of statistical information within and outside T&T, and provide the requisite human resources and technical expertise to help transform the organisation’s structure. The project, which officially started on February 9, 2012, at the Statistics Sweden home office in Stockholm, is due to finish in about 14 months.The first team from Sweden will arrive in T&T on March 19.
According to the Ministry of Public Administration’s Web site, the broad objectives of this consultancy are:
1. To provide support to CSO to perform a study on the supply and demand of statistical information within and outside the country, and define core products of the agency.
2. To define the most appropriate organisational structure of the new National Statistical Institute and to give dimensions to the new structure in terms of human resources that will be become necessary.
3. To provide the necessary human resource and technical expertise to drive the process of transformation.
4. To develop the information technology (IT) master plan for CSO in order to align the mission of the proposed reorganisation to the new IT system.
The Ministry of Public Administration added that this consultancy will be one of several projects in an overall transformation programme of the CSO and they fall under the purview of the Ministry of Planning and Economy. The Ministry of Public Administration (MPA) is the executing agency for the Public Sector Reform Initiation Programme and the e-Government and Knowledge Brokering funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The CSO project is being funded with the use of the IDB loan resources. For this reason, MPA, the CSO and its parent ministry have been jointly working on this initiative with support from other stakeholders. Additionally, contract management and project management oversight for the consultancy would be provided by the MPA.
The United Kingdom model
A glance at other statistical offices in advanced societies places the performance of T&T’s CSO in perspective. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the executive office of the United Kingdom Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department which reports directly to the UK parliament. It is charged with the collection and publication of statistics related to the economy, population and society of the UK at national and local levels. It functions as the Office of the National Statistician, which is also the UK Statistics Authority’s chief executive and principal statistical adviser to the UK’s National Statistics Institute and the “head office” of the Government Statistical Service (GSS).
ONS produces and publishes a wide range of the information about Britain that can be used for social and economic policy-making as well as painting a portrait of the country as its population evolves. This is often produced in ways that make comparison with other societies and economies possible. Much of the data on which policymakers depend is produced by ONS through a combination of a decennial population census, samples and surveys and analysis of data generated by businesses and organisations, such as the National Health Service and the register of births, marriages and deaths.
Both its publications and publicly-available raw data are reported and discussed daily in the media as the basis for the public understanding of the country in which they live.
Applications of data
The reliance on some of these data by government (both local and national) makes ONS material central to debates about the determination of priorities, the allocation of resources and for decisions on interest rates or borrowing. The complexity and degree and speed of change in the society, combined with the challenge of measuring some of these (for example, in relation to longevity, migration or illness patterns or fine movements in inflation or other aspects of national accounts) give rise to periodic debates about some of its indicators and portrayals. Many of these rely on sources which are outside of ONS, while some of its own sources need to be supplemented, for example between censuses, by updated but less rigorously-obtained information from other sources. Consequently, unexpected or incomplete data or occasional errors or disputes about its analysis can also attract considerable attention.
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau also gathers other national demographic and economic data. As part of the United States Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau serves as a leading source of data about the American people and the economy.
Uses of US census data
• Many federal, state, local and tribal governments use census data to:
• Decide the location of new housing and public facilities
• Examine the demographic characteristics of communities, states, and the US
• Plan transportation systems and roadways
• Determine quotas and creation of police and fire precincts
• Create localised areas for elections, schools and utilities
• Business also has many uses for census data:
• Forecast future product demand
• Determine site locations for expansion/new business
• Determine future need for nursing homes, day care centres, hospitals
• Clarify if they are employing a representative workforce
Department of Statistics Singapore
The Singapore Department of Statistics is the central statistical authority responsible for official statistics on the Singapore economy and population. Before Singapore achieved self-government in 1959, the Department compiled almost all the statistical series. The focus was on external trade, shipping and cargo statistics and basic demographic data. The statistical activities expanded rapidly in the 1960s to cover manufacturing, commerce and service statistics. Since 1973, a decentralised statistical system has been adopted. Official statistics are collected and compiled by the Singapore Department of Statistics as well as Research and Statistics Units (RSUs) in various government ministries and statutory boards. The RSUs specialise in statistics on key areas under the purview of their parent organisations.
The decentralised statistical system has effectively met users’ needs for comprehensive economic and social statistics in the last 25 years. There is closer contact and greater interaction between statistical personnel and data users in specific ministries and statutory boards, leading to more relevant statistics being collected and analysed. As administrative databases and records are increasingly being tapped for statistical purposes, an increasing range of statistics has been compiled on more timely and cost-effective basis. With the specialisation of statistical personnel in specific subject matters, the Singapore Department of Statistics and the RSUs are able to stay focused and provide good quality statistics.