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Improving Official Statistics

IAOS Members Newsletter November 2019

Dear IAOS Members

I have been enjoying getting to know lots more people over the last month. The more I see, the more impressed I am with what is going on in our network. I can also more clearly see the potential for the official statistics community to have a stronger voice and greater impact for public good in countries around the world.

The Young Statistician Prize 2020 is well underway. Please reach out to your networks and encourage submissions. This year we have introduced a new category of Honourable Mention for an author from a developing country. We have also brought the submission date forward to 30 November in order to make announcements ahead of the 2020 Conference in Zambia. So please, if you haven’t put in a submission yet, get writing soon.

We have also announced the call for papers for the 2020 conference.

The conference Better Lives 2030: Mobilising the power of data for Africa and the world -17th IAOS Conference/ 1st ISI Regional Statistics Conference for Africa, Hosted by the Zambia Statistics Agency will take place at the Avani Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia, 19-21 May 2020.  Proposals for sessions, papers as well as events before and after the conference close on 31 December 2019.

Members will also be interested to read these attached two pieces about Andreas Georgiou. The first, from the American Statistical Association (https://www.amstat.org/asa/News/Eight-Years-of-Government-Persecution-of-Greek-Statistician.aspx ), updates on eight years of persecution of Andreas and the second, by Miranda Xafa in World Economics (https://www.worldeconomics.com/Files/Xafa.pdf ), gives a history of Andreas’ plight. An event hosted by the ICAEW featuring Andreas (and Ed Humpherson from the UK) is also worth a look (https://audioboom.com/posts/7379312-350m-truth-lies-and-numbers ).

In my last message I mentioned four events I was due to attend. The first, the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange (DG4X) (https://www.bloomberg.com/lp/d4gx/ ), was an inspiring gathering of mainly private sector data scientists keen to work on public good projects. Michael Bloomberg’s influence as former Mayor of New York was clear through a number of excellent project case studies featuring cities from around the world. 

The second event was the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data Board meeting ( www.data4sdgs.org ). We discussed how best the Partnership can scale its impact now it has become well established. Learning from the very positive developments in official statistics in Ghana provided an excellent touch point for our discussion.

The third event was meetings with Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division and two of his Branch Heads Francesca Perucci and Ronald Jansen (Ronald is also an IAOS EXCO member). They are all keen to build links with our community and I discussed with them opportunities coming up, including through our conference next year.

The fourth event was the conference on Valuing Statistics hosted by the United Kingdom. This event was about taking the conclusions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) report (www.unece.org/index.php?id=51139 ) and turning them into concrete actions. I used the occasion to set out the important role played by the IAOS.

As well as these events I met Roger Taylor, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom’s new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation ( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation ). Roger was interested to explore the role of the National Statistical Office in an ethical data ecosystem.

Finally, I was a speaker at the PARIS21 Cross-Regional Forum ( https://paris21.org/news-center/events/cross-regional-forum-2019 ) which has been focused on the issue of trust in Official Statistics. There was a super line up of speakers to help delegates get creative and inspired to act. PARIS21 launched their Trust Initiative at the event (https://trustinitiative2020.paris21.org/ ). Do consider whether you want to apply.

In the weeks ahead, following a meeting of EXCO, I will be visiting our colleagues at the Zambia CSO to help take forward planning for our conference and also attending the ISI/IFC meeting on Data Governance in Tunis.

If you have some other opportunities to spread the word about the IAOS, or have information to share with others interested in official statistics, contact me at contactIAOS@gmail.com

John Pullinger

IAOS President

November 2019