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1.1 Metadata strategy


General strategy:
Where standards, identifiers, procedures and tools are developed, their use is mandatory within the office. 
SORS corporate metadata strategy was not published as a single document. However, the authors would like to believe that the main goal of  SORS in the field of metadata is to develop an efficient and effective, standardized and integrated system for collecting and editing metadata as an important part of the statistical information system.


 1.1.1. Corporate strategy and guidelines for the preparation and dissemination of metadata across the organisation

A centralised, corporate metadata repository is implemented at SORS. It includes metadata about surveys, publications, statistical terminology, classifications and nomenclatures, advance release calendar. For each statistical survey methodological explanations have been developed and are available on SORS's website (in English as well).
This year the project to extend the metadata repository has been developed. The repository will include questionnaires, variables and connections to databases. The next step will be to connect those two parts with the repository for reference metadata, which will have to be built as soon as possible.
In the centralised metadata repository metadata will be reusable among different surveys and among different statistical domains. They will be disseminated through our website.
Due to the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by different international organisations, SORS decided to consider SDMX standards as the basis for dissemination of metadata to international organisations. At the time being SORS is involved in the project SODI  and is testing the "push" method for sending data and metadata to Eurostat.
Implementation of SDMX standards is a technical and a content problem. To be as systematic and effective as possible, a small group of four people has been established at SORS. The main goals of the group are: 1. to monitor the development of the SDMX, 2. to collaborate in different Eurostat activities in the field of development and implementation of the SDMX, 3. to prepare suggestions on how to take steps to implement the SDMX, 4. to acquaint the wider interested public with the SDMX. For SORS's staff metadata and statistical glossaries are available on the intranet. The metadata Common Vocabulary (MCV) is also in the preoperational phase. Because it is a part of SDMX standards, SORS puts great attention to the usage of common methodology for metadata in all statistical domains. Here is to be mentioned the internal SORS's Terminological Group, which is: 1. authorized to give the opinion about initiatives of new statistical terms within the scope of statistical terminology, 2. responsible for the regulation of the terminological database and its maintenance.


1.1.2. Existence of corporate database / glossaries to promote the use of standard concepts and definitions

It is the usual practice that statistical information is accompanied by standardised metadata, available on the website for all users. There is a responsible officer in SORS who checks that metadata are available, and monitors metadata documentation.
Methodologies are available on the website and changes are communicated to users and discussed in the statistical advisory committees which include also users of statistical information. SORS has published a number of comprehensive quality reports, consistent with the ESS quality criteria, and plans to add more every year.


1.1.3. Processes to ensure that sampling and non-sampling errors are measured, systematically documented and information made available to users for all key statistical outputs

The process to ensure that sample and non-sample errors are measured is very well used within those statistical surveys which in the recent years have gone through major technical revisions. For these surveys standard quality indicators, among which are estimations for sample and non-sample errors, are calculated automatically within the statistical process. Indicators are available in Standard Quality Reports published on SORS's website (from September 2008 on available also in English).


1.1.4. Metadata are documented according to standardised metadata systems

Detailed metadata in English can be accessed from the SORS website for over 160 subjects which may also be grouped by the user into 30 fields of statistics. Although the metadata items vary by subject detailed metadata are generally available for:

-         purpose of the survey;
-         observation unit;
-         period of observation;
-         sources, coverage and method of data collection;
-         definitions and explanations;
-         where data are published;
-         date when metadata were last updated;
-         name of person who prepared the metadata.

A Guide through Statistics glossary on the SORS website provides key definitions from statistical surveys and provides an overview of statistical standards used by individual fields of statistics. The glossary does not provide the source for each definition.


1.1.5. Recommendations / guidelines for the treatment of time series breaks

SORS and the authorized producers in most cases report that they clearly notice the breaks in time series caused by different reasons.
Although national statistics doesn't have special written procedures on the treatment of time series breaks, SORS through the Editorial Board centrally coordinates the publication of the time series breaks in a standardized way. 


1.1.6. Recommendations / guidelines for the presentation of time series - including seasonally adjusted data

Since 2005, internal recommendations for the presentation of indices (WDA, SA,...) have been used at publications and SI-STAT database in the field of short term statistics. These guidelines will be upgraded and the use for the publications in 2010 will be obligatory for all time series. Besides, special guidelines were developed for the publication of time series in the case of Euro changeover.


1.1.7. Within the MEDIUM-term programme of statistical surveys: 2008-2012 we read:

Current Medium-term Programme of Statistical Surveys 2008-2012 is the third such document in the history of Slovene national statistics. Knowledge and experience obtained in the past period were the basis for preparing the objectives and activities that are part of the Medium-term Programme of Statistical Surveys 2008-2012. Some of the tasks that link both medium-term periods (the other was (2003-2007) are: 1. active presidency of the EU Council Working Group on Statistics during Slovenia's presidency of the EU, 2. Slovenia's preparations for membership of the OECD, 3. preparations for the Census of Population and Housing, which will be conducted for the first time fully on the basis of administrative sources and 4. development projects and temporal and financial analysis of the burden of reporting units and producers of national statistics, which takes place within the Commission and will contribute to further reduction of the reporting burden and costs while achieving the same or even better quality of statistical outputs and services.
A new feature of the medium-term programme is nine strategies that are the framework for quality improvement of already known data requests and for creating the conditions for recognising new contents that will be needed in the future. Strategic activities will be planned for two years in action plans, while their implementation will be monitored with annual reports.
The nine strategies are:
-         Strategy for the further development of national statistics in Slovenia;
-         Strategy in the field of further reduction of administrative burdens;
-         Strategy of quality;
-         Strategy of data protection;
-         Strategy of cooperation with reporting units and reduction of burdens;
-         Strategy of dissemination and communication with users;
-         Strategy of information technology update;
-         Strategy of human resources management;
-         Strategy of financial resources management,

Two of the most important main objectives of the medium-term programme of national statistics for the forthcoming five-year period are to provide quality and user-friendly national statistics, and to improve the flexibility of the response of national statistics to the needs and requests of users by using new sources of data. At the same time all institutions in the Slovene national statistics system set themselves a goal to strengthen the trust in national statistics, not only on the part of users but to the same extent also on the part of statistical data providers - including the efforts to reduce their burden when reporting data to producers of national statistics. In the next five years data collection will be rationalized with even more intensive use of administrative sources and new innovative approaches to achieving greater efficiency will be designed.

1.2 Current situation

1.2.1. Slovenia has a centralised, functionally de-concentrated institutional statistical system

SORS as the main executive and coordinating authority of the national statistics with assistance of authorized producers of national statistics provides relevant statistical information to national and international society and officially delivers data to Eurostat. Moreover, SORS provides to the public administration bodies and organizations, the economy and general public data that are of good quality, timely and comparable in time, space and internationally, on the status and trends in the economic, demographic and social fields, as well as in the fields of environment and natural resources. At the same time aims at providing data for dissemination at minimal costs. By respecting statistical confidentiality, SORS builds users and respondents' trust and its professional independence.
A register-oriented system: Slovenia has a relatively developed infrastructure of public evidences and administrative registers. The development of administrative registers and their interoperability is a strategic orientation of the country. Multi-use of registers and their outstanding role in the implementation of e-services are of key importance. One of the most important users of administrative sources of data is the national statistical system, which can be considered as a register-oriented system. Article 28 of the NSA states that administrative and other national authorities, public servants and holders of public offices, as well as authorized producers which collect statistics in their own fields of work and who are not included in the programme of statistical surveys shall define the methodological bases of their own statistical surveys after having obtained prior opinion of the Office.

Methodologies are available on the website and changes are communicated to users and discussed in the statistical advisory committees which include also users of statistical information.
Metadata (Methodological Explanations): It is the usual practice that statistical information is accompanied by standardized metadata, available on the website for all users. There is a responsible officer in SORS who checks that metadata are available, and monitors metadata documentation. Detailed metadata in English can be accessed from the SORS website for over 160 subjects who may also be grouped by the user into 30 fields of statistics. Although the metadata items vary by subject detailed metadata are generally available for:
-         purpose of the survey;
-         observation unit;
-         period of observation;
-         sources, coverage and method of data collection;
-         definitions and explanations;
-         where data are published;
-         date when metadata were last updated;
-         name of person who prepared the metadata.

A Guide through Statistics glossary on the SORS website provides key definitions from statistical surveys and provides an overview of statistical standards used by individual fields of statistics*. The glossary does not provide the source for each definition.

SORS' release calendar is available from the home page of the website from an interactive facility. The site enables users to retrieve release information by field of statistics, subject and series for a time span specified by the user. The facility also allows the user to view all publications released on the current day, week or month. Finally, users may select fields of statistics for which they wish to receive notifications about new releases. The calendar is regularly reviewed by senior management. To cater for releases well into the future SORS maintains a "release not later than" category - releases may be earlier than this (though in practice are firmed up nearer the time) but never later. Any divergence from the dissemination time schedule is publicised in advance, explained and a new release date set. The problem of divergence is well arranged by SORS's internal regulation which gives detailed explanations about the planning procedure for the release calendar.  The regulation defines that in case of unexpected events, for which statistical data can not be provided on time (not even estimation!), although publication was planned and its release date confirmed, SORS on its website on the scheduled day publishes special information and notifies users with short explanation by e-mail as well. This information is removed from the website, after confirmation of the next release date. However, these events are extremely rare (once or twice per year). 


1.2.2. Priorities of the National Statistics in 2009 
 

1.2.2.1. Total quality management at SORS

In 2009 the SORS priorities will be set considerably wider, and will cover:
-         activities to promote the cooperation of enterprises in data reporting;
-         concern for the consistent monitoring and analysis of response burden;
-         implementation of the process of standardising questionnaires in statistical surveys;
-         preparation of documentation on the consistency and coherence of statistical data from various surveys;
-         preparation of internal rules and procedures on revisions of published statistical data;
-         establishing internal rules and procedures for keeping documentation for the time series breaks.

In line with the adopted action plan for implementing the quality strategy, great attention will be focused on the preparation of internal methodological manuals (i.e. textbooks, handbooks, presentations, etc.) for individual parts of the statistical process. At the same time standard and annual quality reports will be prepared.By providing the necessary technical and expert support for establishing statistical methodology, SORS attempts to increase interest in implementing the quality standards of the European Statistical System among authorised producers of national statistics. As part of the assessment of the compliance with the principles of the Code among authorised producers, for 2009 SORS is planning to carry out a special series of training sessions for authorised producers. In terms of content, apart from the preparation of standard and annual quality reports, the training will cover the formulation of methodological explanations and a release calendar. At the same time a short course is being planned on imputing missing values, data editing in statistical surveys, on sampling methods and data dissemination.


1.2.2.2 SORS infrastructural project

Completion of the project aimed at modernisation of statistical processing for business statistics (ISIS information system) at the end of 2008 means that SORS will face a major change in the method of work, and this will be visible in 2009. In addition to optimising the current procedures, the changes will also affect work, which will henceforth be based on metadata driven processes; individual processes will be carried out in a standardised way, which will also contribute to less time spent.
Changes to procedures affect all areas of statistical process:
from the preparation of statistical survey through to the introduction of a common base of variables, questions and questionnaires,
data collection through the introduction of e-reporting, optical reading of printed questionnaires, the implementation of communication types and a common directory of business that will be based exclusively on the statistical business register,
data processing through the inclusion of data from various sources, simplified metadata processing and so forth.
At the end of the project and its implementation in practice in 2009, SORS must carry out several small organisational and procedural changes to support the new infrastructural purposes - i.e. support for enterprises (reporting units) in implementing e-reporting, establishing a call centre and so forth. The transition of statistical surveys to the new system will be gradual for enterprises and SORS. 


1.2.2.3 Establishing a new statistical business register within the ISIS framework

In 2009 upgrading will be completed on the statistical business register, which will include the Register of Enterprise Groups. With this project SORS will succeed in responding to the majority of requirements of the EU regulation on business registers and also the requirements of internal SORS users, i.e. our employees. Indeed for business entities the register will enable the central keeping of data, which through the use of appropriate statistical methods will be conducted on the basis of a combination of administrative and statistical data.


1.2.2.4 Further development of cooperation with reporting units

While it continues its efforts to reduce the response burden, SORS is also seeking appropriate technical methods for reporting data. In addition to the aforementioned e-reporting, in 2008 we started introducing internet telephony. In addition to automatic dialling, one major task will be establishing an Information base for reporting units, accessible on the SORS website. This will contribute to better quality communication with reporting units, which is also in line with the medium-term strategy 2008-2012.


1.2.2.5 Concern for the reduction of response burden and cost effectiveness 

Monitoring and analysing the burdening of reporting units and producers of national statistics
Based on the Action plan to reduce administrative burdens and costs, which was published on 24 January 2007 by the European Commission, on the Commission's request SORS estimated the time and costs of reporting units and producers of national statistics for statistical surveys conducted on the legal basis determined for this estimate by the Commission. The estimate for 2005-2007 was carried out on the basis of the internationally adopted methodology of the Standard Cost Model. By the end of October 2008 we will also have completed measurement of the burden for all tasks of the annual statistical programme for which SORS is responsible. The findings will be an important basis for the further reduction of response burden and rationalisation of the work of SORS.


1.2.2.6 Classifications

Introducing KLASIUS into procedures for accreditation of programmes and catalogues and into data collections and statistical surveys

In 2009 SORS expects the competent ministries, institutions and other bodies, in line with the Agreement on cooperation in implementing the classification system for education and training, to implement KLASIUS in procedures of accepting the accreditation of programmes and catalogues for national vocational qualifications, and to ensure that the existing programmes will also be furnished with KLASIUS codes. This will enable SORS to set up in 2009 a new base - a statistical collection of educational activities/outcomes, which will form the basis for drawing up detailed coded KLASIUS lists, and e-browser and other aids. These activities will be followed by the second phase of introducing KLASIUS, specifically in data collections in which the primary unit is a person, education or inclusion in education as the characteristic of a person - starting with records on labour market statistics, M forms  and records or databases from the Employment Service of Slovenia.