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Summary

The

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following is the HLG's strategy to implement

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its vision for modernising official statistics, which was endorsed by the Conference of European Statisticians (CES) in June 2011.

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Strategy to implement the vision of the HLG

 

I.

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Executive summary

1.   This strategy is the high-level plan to deliver the vision that was presented at the June 2011 plenary session of the Conference of European Statisticians (CES). The main theme of the vision was that statistical organisations are confronted with accelerating change in society and the way that data are produced and used within the information industry. Official statistics faces all of the opportunities and threats that accompany a data deluge. The scope of the strategy is the global official statistics community, including national and international statistical organisations. This strategy will also help emerging economies to connect and be part of the wider information society. In this paper the word “product” should be understood in a wide sense, including statistical goods and services as well as environments created by statistical organisations for users to produce their own analyses.

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4.   The June 2012 CES Plenary Session endorsed this strategy.

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II.

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Background

A.

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The official statistics industry and its place in the wider information industry

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5.   The official statistics industry is part of a more extensive information industry. Within this wider information industry other players are claiming their place and statistical organisations cannot automatically assume that they will retain their current position and relevance.

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(g)      Output - Whatever technology or new inputs are used, the official statistical industry will be judged by its outputs and the way it interacts with the different types of users.

 

B.

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SWOT analysis

8.   A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis was undertaken by Capgemini Consulting working for Statistics Netherlands to define the current situation of the official statistics industry assessing it from an international perspective. This analysis was based on existing information on the industry (including the vision of the HLG) complemented by interviews with members of the HLG (internal stakeholders), commercial organisations and government bodies (external stakeholders).

9.   The results of this exercise are:

 

1.      Strengths

(a)     High quality with relevant and very strong statistical products over long term;

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(d)     International collaboration has started mainly because it is becoming too expensive for each NSO to individually change their tailor-made production processes and products.

 

2.      Weaknesses

(a)      A limited outside and “client-centric” view;

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(g)      Top-level commitment to bring about the changes needed to align the statistical industry with the changing environment is not broadly understood as the key factor in this change process.

 

3.      Opportunities

(a)     In some specific statistical domains, cross-border data become more important (globalisation, enterprise groups, climate change). The work and products of NSOs should be expanded to explain what is happening on a multinational level;

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(j)      Specialisation of NSOs in certain products to increase efficiency in the production process of these products. This specialisation in products could vary across countries and sectors to optimize the possibilities of specialisation.

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4.      Threats

(a)      Other organisations are starting to create output NSOs used to have a monopoly on;

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10. The results of this analysis are consistent with the issues identified in the HLG vision. For the strategy, the opportunities are the most important with some of the weaknesses as constraints. The opportunities show the importance of a global view of the official statistics industry. They point in the direction of standards and process rationalisation through international collaboration. This analysis shows that it is unlikely that NSOs will ever be truly agile organisations, so it may be more appropriate to build strategic partnerships with third parties, rather than try to compete with them.

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III.

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Elements of the Strategy

A.

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Purpose

11. The SWOT analysis, allows the creation of a clear strategy, with a number of key actions to support the implementation of the HLG vision. A complicating factor is that the future developments are very uncertain because of the accelerating rate of change. This makes concrete long-term goals a near impossibility. The logical consequence is that the basis of the strategy should be preparing for change, navigating towards the big goals while formulating small steps to get there, validating and adjusting the direction as necessary.

12. The purpose of this strategy is to free up resources for agile product management and renewal by improving processes. Statistical organisations need to produce their outputs faster and in a more agile way to meet rapidly changing needs. The standardisation of processes, products, methods and statistical concepts has to serve the purpose of the strategy and be a means of cost reduction.

B.

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Rejuvenating the product set

13. The HLG vision emphasises that new products are needed that are more suited to current and future user requirements. A number of important drivers are mentioned:

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(h)     Treating methods and classifications as products: Since statistical organisations are not alone in the information value chain, others will need our methods and can be interested in our classifications. Proactive encouragement for other organisations to adopt standards from official statistics increases the visibility and relevance of official statistics outputs, making it easier for users to understand and combine data;

(i)       Encourage others to add value to our products:  Investigate how NSOs can create environments to encourage third parties to add value to statistical products. For example developing services for use by creators of mobile applications;

(j)      Opening up our output to others: Bridging statistical data communication standards like Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) to standards used in the public domain like Google’s Data Set Publishing Language (DSPL) will facilitate publication and dissemination. It will also facilitate communication with strategic partners (commercial entities) to enable them to use statistical data in their platforms. Open Data is another area where research and initiatives are needed.

First steps in rejuvenating the product set

15. A good starting point will be to create an inventory of all interesting projects and initiatives. This will help to bring interested statistical organisations in contact with each other and to inform the statistical community what research is being undertaken to what end. The big aim is to create a statistical research community for new products.

16. A list should be created of concrete projects that are candidates for collaboration and in line with the strategy. A good start would be the list of projects based on collective needs and offers made in the Statistical Network. Based on this list, key priorities can be identified and allocated to relevant expert groups. The list will be maintained by the HLG. Entries in the list can be created by the HLG as well as by statistical organisations and leaders of expert groups.

C.

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Rationalising processes

17. The basis of the strategy on processes is presented in the diagram below. The variety in processes has to be reduced to free up resources. This is to be done by reducing the number of methods and technologies used and by harmonising concepts in industry-wide models such as the GSIM and the GSBPM.

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18. The HLG vision clearly identifies the need for agreeing and adopting standardised and industrialised processes for the production of statistics. However, during the development of the GSIM, it was recognised that a higher-level integration of statistical process, information objects and flows, methodology and technology is needed to produce statistics. The GSBPM, GSIM, Methods and Technology corners have relations that are governed by rules that cannot be expressed at this level. Further work in this direction, therefore, is being done.

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(e)      Create environments that facilitate the reuse and sharing of methods, components, processes and data repositories that not only enable the delivery of predetermined outputs and services but which also enable new products and services to be created more efficiently, as well as enabling end-users to specify and run their own analyses and produce outputs through remote access to underlying datasets.

D.

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Managing organisational change

Prerequisites for change

20. To manage effectively the changes required, it is vital to consider four main issues:

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21. It is not realistic to suppose that all members of the official statistics industry will have the same levels of willingness, ability and readiness to change at the start. Change will therefore be pioneered by a few organisations before being implemented by all. The ability to change can differ as NSO’s face different challenges in particular, differences in national legislation, priorities and requirements.

Proposals on governance

22. It is necessary to establish layers of governance to bring about successfully the changes needed without top managers needing to get involved in detailed technical issues.

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(d)     Make sure collaboration is at the desired organisational level. If the level is too low, the overhead is too high because too much detail has to be agreed upon. For example, creating software together at the actual coding level could prove to be very costly while agreeing on a framework could be more beneficial.

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IV.

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Definition of success

28. To assess the value of this strategy, success criteria are needed. The vision makes it clear that the strategy is, to some extent, chasing a moving target. The world is changing much faster than statistical organisations can react. The measure of success should not, therefore, be the completion of a single big task but the realisation of a process. This process is the ability to continually adapt to the changing world.

29. The HLG should develop indicators to monitor and communicate progress. This will send out the message that the HLG is serious about driving change and  will also motivate those who are involved in making it actually happen. 

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V.

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Phases and milestones

30. Looking at the distance between current reality and the vision, a number of milestones are proposed:

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(g)      The CES plenary sessions provide a platform for the strategic direction of the official statistics industry. This is a logical consequence of the achievement of the above milestones.

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VI.

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Bibliography

The following documents were used as the basis for preparing this strategy:

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(c)      The Case for an International Statistical Innovation Program (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

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