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Improving Official Statistics

President’s message December 2021

Dear IAOS members:

Several months have passed since I became President of IAOS in July of this year. The year was busy for the world statistical community who needed to modify data collection due to COVID-19, conduct the 2020 round of population census and continue to produce relevant and reliable statistics for decision makers and the public. It was busy for the IAOS, which is aiming to expand its membership bringing, in addition to official statisticians, data scientists, statisticians from private sector and most importantly data users, policy makers, academia and civil society at large.

The IAOS Executive Committee (EXCO) are finalizing the draft IAOS strategy which we will send in January to the entire IAOS community for comments, followed by final endorsement by the IAOS General Assembly in late April of 2022 during the IAOS Krakow conference.

In our campaign to increase IAOS membership we have contacted all the NSOs, international organizations with statistical functions, private sector companies, data providers and those active in providing technical assistance, numerous universities inviting organizations and staff to join the IAOS. I do not have statistics as of now but replies we received are very positive.

Conferences and webinars

In September I visited Krakow and Warsaw where I worked with the Krakow conference Local Organizing Committee. We visited the prospective conference site and we hope that this site will be selected for the conference venue. With leadership of Statistics Poland, we discussed and agreed on the conference budget and agreed on the conference fees. The fees were endorsed by the IAOS EXCO, and will be made public soon. A training session on small area estimates will be held a day before the conference. We will announce the training program in the next few weeks. The conference site can be reached at iaos2022 – Worthy Information for Challenging Times.

Eurostat has provided a grant to support developing country statisticians to attend the Krakow conference. A small group chaired by me with participation by Eurostat, UNSD and Statistics Poland has been established and will oversee the process and select applicants.

We are monitoring the situation of COVID-19 particularly in Africa to make a decision on the Zambia conference. As of now we are planning the conference for late 2022 or very early in 2023. For updates on the conference, please visit the Zambia conference website. We hope that Eurostat and other donors will generously support the Zambia conference.

IAOS is co-sponsoring the conference on Small Area Estimations to be held in the University of Maryland in May 2022 (sae2022.org).

In November the IAOS organized together with ASA Washington Statistical Society a webinar “Statistical linkage of multiple disparate data sources with an application to estimate COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy rates for small areas”. University of Maryland professor Partha Lahiri made the presentation which was followed by a lively discussion. The webinar was attended by more than 150 people from 50 countries. All attendees received a certificate.

A few webinars are in the process of preparation and we will announce them in due course. If IAOS members have suggestions for IAOS sponsored webinars, please contact me at ContactIAOS@gmail.com.

Young Statisticians Prize

The IAOS Young Statisticians Prize 2022 is now open. The Prize is open to all young statisticians on topics of strategic interest to the official statistical community. Information (including information in all UN languages) and details on how to make a submission are available at YSP – IAOS (iaos-isi.org). Submissions close on 11 February 2022 but we encourage everyone to make an early start. Mentoring younger colleagues can be a great way to help contribute to the success of our profession.


SCORUS adopted a new statute which has been put for discussion and endorsement by the IAOS EXCO. In November, SCORUS organized two webinars on “Measuring sustainable development at regional and local level” and “Communication of data at regional and local level”.

Sadly, SCORUS also has to announce the recent death of Derek Bond, who made many contributions to the work of SCORUS over many decades. Derek organized a number of SCORUS events, including the special SCORUS conference in Belfast in 1998, and the SCORUS satellite conference at Limavady to the Dublin World Statistics Conference in 2011, as well as chaired SCORUS sessions at numerous international conferences and, contributed to the programme of most of the international SCORUS conferences at the beginning of this century. A former SCORUS Chairman and committee member, Derek also contributed substantially to the reform of the SCORUS statute in 2005.

We owe him a lot and will always remember his friendship and his essential contributions to the international SCORUS network. Our condolences to family and friends at this time.

Statistical Journal of the IAOS (SJIAOS) news

Upcoming issues

The December 2021, Volume 37, Issue 4  has the Special Theme of “Statistics on difficult to measure population groups”.  The issue also contains the four winning manuscripts from the IAOS Young Statisticians Prize (YSP) 2021, as well as a range of articles on COVID-19 and some manuscripts from the ISI World Statistics Conference in The Hague (July 2021).

Many more from this conference and the UN World Data Forum (held in Bern in October 2021)  are expected in the three first issues in 2022.

Two earlier issues – Open Access issues – that call for your special attention:

The December 2021 issue (Volume 37, Issue 4) is a full open access issue that contains 22 high quality contributions focusing on ‘New Developments in Training in Official Statistics’. It describes the recent trends in the training in official statistics of those producing and those using results of official statistics, with the aim to develop respectively their specific knowledge, skills and competencies and to increase the ‘statistical thinking’.

Full open access is now also granted on The Supplement to Volume 36: Extra issue in 2020 ‘‘Official statistics in Africa”. While the 2020 Zambia conference has been delayed, it was decided to go ahead with this extra issue to not lose the momentum of the extra attention on statistics in Africa. This extra issue that now has become full open access due to sponsoring by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, contains around 15 manuscripts from the African region.

Call for Papers for a special issue on the “History of Official Statistics”

The SJIAOS is currently organizing a special issue on “History of Official Statistics” – planned for December 2022. The editorial team welcome articles. Contact the SJIAOS Editor Pieter Everaers (pevssjiaos@gmail.com) for more information.

Papers for other issues are also welcome. Contact Peter Everaers, if you have a possible paper, or an idea for a paper.

Upcoming webinars on writing for Statistical journals

Save the dates: 8, 10 and 15 February 2022

The SJIAOS, together with Journal of Official Statistics, Survey Methodology, Survey Statistician, and the publishers IOS Press and Wiley is organizing a series of webinars to help prospective authors interested in publishing in international statistical journals.

If you, or a colleague, want to publish your work in international statistical manuscripts – but don’t know how, or want to improve your chances of a manuscript being accepted, then these webinars will be for you. The webinars will be held on 8, 10 and 15 February 2022, from 03.00 PM (CET) – 05:00 PM (CET). More information will be available on www.officialstatistics.com.

We invite IAOS members to encourage younger colleagues to join the webinars.

SJIAOS Website Discussion Platform – www.officialstatistics.com

Remember that the Discussion platform is the ideal venue to discuss and debate many of the current issues in official statistics. Discussions are based on statements from key papers in the SJIAOS. In September two new discussions came on-line:

  • The UN Fundamental Principles for Official Statistics: a suitable and current self-regulatory instrument or an outdated ‘paper tiger’?


  • The demand and format of Training in Official Statistics.

The December issue of the SJIAOS will also launch a discussion on “Measuring and official statistics on difficult to measure groups: a challenge to leave no-one not-included.”

The base for this discussion is based on the important work of the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) working group on drafting International Recommendations on Statelessness Statistics (IROSS).

The UN World Data Forum

The World Data Forum was held in Bern, Switzerland from 3-6 October 2021. For many attending, this was the first physical meeting since early 2020, so the feeling of joy and excitement was almost tangible.

According to the Whova App used to support the hybrid event, 7,123 participants joined the event, of which 1,239 joined in person (looking around I would have guessed closer to 400). There were 378 speakers. Run by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (FSO), the event was run with typical Swiss efficiency. The FSO had taken the sustainability theme to heart, so all of the meals were plant based, to minimize the carbon footprint of the event.

The agenda was rich and packed – with as many as nine parallel sessions running for each time slot. The ‘A world with data we trust’ theme, governance was evident in many sessions. Different aspects of governance, including discussions on a human rights governance framework, the need for a global data convention, developing a digital ecosystem for Earth data, the integration of geospatial and statistical data, modernizing statistical legal frameworks, data protection, balancing trust, quality and privacy, adherence to the UN Fundamental Principles were dealt with. But perhaps the real litmus test, was the coffee break and lunchtime chatter dedicated to governance issues – covering all of the above and the dismissals of several chief statisticians around the world.

The Forum concluded with the adoption of the Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals (https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/hlg/Bern_Data_Compact_October_6_2021.pdf) and the announcement that the next forum will be hosted by China in spring 2023.

A number of papers from the UN World Data Forum will be in future issues of the SJIAOS. If you attended (physically or virtually) and thought that a presentation could be the subject of a paper in a future issue of the SJIAOS, contact the SJIAOS Editor, Pieter Everaers with your suggestion.

Finally, on behalf of the IAOS Executive Committee, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support for the IAOS. I wish you and your families all the best for 2022, and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the IAOS conference in Krakow.




Misha Belkindas

IAOS President