Coordination of the national statistical office is one of the building blocks of the #NFUR00 - National follow up and review - #asd79 as described in the UNDG Guidelines to support country reporting.

The guidelines write about it:

  • The importance of high-quality, timely, easily accessible, reliable and disaggregated data cannot be overemphasized. Without such data, no review can be complete or usefully contribute to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Agenda has explicit targets on data under #SDG17 pertaining to the means of implementation, and recognizes that the foundation for reviews at all levels will be data derived from national sources.
  • National statistics come from a variety of sources, together referred to as the national statistical system. The setup of the system differs by country, varying from a centralized system to different degrees of decentralization. The national statistical office typically coordinates the system.
  • Statistics on specific subjects, such as health, education, energy, transport, the environment, etc., may be compiled by ministries or special agencies. Often these are the data/information focal point for relevant international organizations, and the link to the statistical office may be missing. In some cases, data on the same indicator may come from more than one government department or ministry. For example, data on the economy can be provided by the national statistical office, the ministry of finance, the central bank and/or the ministry of planning.
  • Data sources include population-based surveys and censuses normally managed by the national statistical office, and administrative sources usually managed by line ministries. Data on inputs and outputs, and data on outcomes often come from different sources, and need to be integrated to inform the national review process. The independence and neutrality of national statistical offices (as compared with line ministries) is an important factor for data quality.
  • Advances in technology mean data can now be derived from private providers, including Internet service providers and social media. The latter is increasingly being explored as a source of social data. Information technology has also sped up data collection and processing, which can improve data accessibility, frequency and timeliness, and make better use of administrative data.
  • In addition, an independent office must have a coordinating role across the official statistical system. International organizations should be encouraged to include national statistical offices when requesting data related to the SDGs as part of improving coordination. Otherwise, the lack of coordination within the national statistical system can be a major source of problems with data availability.
  • Other important aspects are to improve cooperation between old and new data producers, ensure the engagement of data users, and develop global ethical, legal and statistical standards on quality, privacy and integrity. The Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics require official statistics to meet high professional standards and quality, and to adhere to norms of impartiality and confidentiality. The Principles were adopted by statisticians at the global level in 1994 and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2014. Keeping official statistics up to these standards is one of the tasks of national statistical offices, requiring constant attention. Currently, there is no mechanism to ensure that the standards are followed by data producers outside the national statistical system, however.
  • National statistical offices should have a legal framework that empowers them to operate independently and effectively under a competent and professional board. They should be strong enough to coordinate and harmonize the nation’s statistical activities, and ensure the production of useful, usable and timely data for all stakeholders, including international organizations. UN Member States, in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (#a4i3 - Data, monitoring and follow-up) of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, noted the importance of drawing on new data sources to meet user needs: “National statistical systems have a central role in generating, disseminating and administering data. They should be supplemented with data and analysis from civil society, academia and the private sector.” (#aaaa125) National statistical offices can play a critical role in identifying potential new sources and helping to ensure quality so these data can complement data from official sources.
  • Statistical capacity-building and strengthening the national statistical system, including the national statistical office, is critical for many developing countries, especially the least developed countries and small island developing states. Many of these countries lack capacity in producing basic sets of traditional data. Their capacity deficits widen exponentially when it comes to harnessing the opportunities offered by the data revolution. The support of international organizations, including the United Nations system in designing and implementing national statistical development strategies in alignment with the SDGs, will be critical.
  • At its 46th session, the United Nations Statistical Commission agreed to establish a High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda. It comprises chief statisticians from 23 national statistical offices across different regions. It is tasked to promote national ownership of the monitoring system for the 2030 Agenda, and to foster statistical capacity-building, partnerships and coordination. UN regional commissions can provide training and technical assistance on producing data that is standardized and comparable across countries in a given region.

Further reading: UNDG Guidelines to Support Country Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals

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#NFUR05 - Coordination by the national statistical office in the tree of 2030 Agenda Review Framework: