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Improving Official Statistics

President’s message December 2022

Dear IAOS Members:

As 2022 comes to an end I want to come back to you all with a short message describing some of the highlights of the IAOS over the recent months. As I reported in my previous communication, we had a very successful conference in April in Krakow where along with a comprehensive scientific programme, IAOS General Assembly, training session on small area estimates, we also had a full day meeting on the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics (FPOS) and to talk about the Censuses with a focus on use and misuse of statistics.

One of the other highlights was the establishment of the Krakow Working Group (discussed below), as well as meeting with Ukrainian statisticians. As the world reopens after the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was an opportunity to see face-to-face many colleagues.

The IAOS Executive Committee has continued to have a busy 2022. As this newsletter shows, plans are well advanced for a successful conference in Zambia in April 2023. IAOS members are also actively participating in the ISI World Statistics Congress (WSC) 2023.

IAOS members, with support from partners, organised a series of webinars, including on the themes of independence and FPOS.

The Young Statisticians Prize (YSP) 2023 competition has been launched, and I strongly encourage all members to support this valuable contribution to official statistics.

As noted below, we are very pleased to welcome incoming SJIAOS Editor in Chief Mr. Pietro Gennari, who will take over from current Editor in Chief Dr. Pieter Everaers at the ISI WSC 2023.

The work of the IAOS is dependent on the voluntary contributions of many people. I am very grateful for their contributions.

As I already reported we are expanding our individual and institutional 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. My thanks to those NSOs, international organizations, private sector companies, data providers and those active in providing technical assistance to NSOs, as well as learning institutions who have accepted the invitation to join the IAOS.

Conferences and Webinars

The 17th IAOS Conference and 3rd ISI Regional Statistics Conference, 4 – 6 April 2023, Livingstone, Zambia

Preparations for the 17th International Association for Official Statistics Conference and 3rd International Statistical Institute Regional Statistics Conference, jointly organised by the IAOS, ISI and the Zambia Statistics Agency – ZamStats,  are well underway.

The conference has the theme: Better Lives 2030: mobilizing the power of data for Africa and the world, and will cover the following seven sub-themes:

  1. Future of Statistics for Africa: statistics that leave no one behind
  2. Skills for Africa in the era of data
  3. Official statistics in society: they matter to all of us
  4. Big data. Opportunities arising from the new data ecosystem
  5. Statistics making a difference: public health, prevent and cure
  6. Statistics making a difference: environment and climate
  7. Statistics making a difference: from data to progress

Following the successful call for papers and training proposals, the committee are now finalising the agenda, including the programme of training courses to be held immediately before the conference.

Thanks to our partners at ZamStats, registration is now open – at https://www.zamstats.gov.zm/2023-iaos-isi-conference/registration/. The conference website also contains information about accommodation and visa requirements.

On behalf of the Conference Executive Committee, I look forward to seeing you in Livingstone in April 2023.

64th ISI World Statistics Congress, Ottawa, Canada, July 16, 2023 – July 20, 2023

As in previous WSC meetings, the IAOS will have a significant contribution to the scientific programme. This WSC will be a full face to face event – the first in 4 years. ISI is very proud to announce that the President’s Invited Speaker for WSC 2023 will be Professor Robert Groves, Provost of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C, and well known to all in the official statistical community.

We look forward to seeing you in Ottawa.

IAOS sponsored Webinars and Workshops

IAOS continued to conduct a series of webinars in the second half of 2022, including:

  • “Blind Spot: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It” Book Discussion Webinar, 23 September 2022
  • “Big Data and Official Statistics in Africa – Maximising the Opportunities” Webinar, 6 October 2022
  • “The Independence of Statistical Institutions with a Focus on Arab Region and North Africa” Webinar, 2 November 2022
  • “Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics: 30 Years after Its Development” IAOS – ECLAC Webinar, 3 November 2022

As can be seen, these all had a strong focus on issues impacting on Official Statistics. Our thanks again to the organisers and partners for these successful events.

If IAOS members have suggestions for IAOS sponsored webinars, please contact me at ContactIAOS@gmail.com.

Young Statisticians Prize

A reminder that the IAOS Young Statisticians Prize (YSP) for 2023 closes on 11 February 2023. This international prize is awarded for the best paper in the field of official statistics written by a young statistician.  In addition to the monetary prizes, the first-place winner will receive travel funds to present the paper at an international conference.   Information about the competition in many of the UN languages Is available at [ YSP ].

As in previous years, the Young Statisticians Prize is an ideal opportunity for young statisticians to showcase important methodological initiatives.  It also provides opportunities for mentoring our statistical leaders of the future.  I’d like to encourage all IAOS members to actively promote the competition and take the opportunity to mentor our up and coming leaders.

A reminder too that the winning articles of the YSP are published in the SJIAOS.  As noted below, the December issue of the SJIAOS includes the winning entries from the 2022 competition.


In conjunction with Eurostat, SCORUS organised a webinar in November on Communication and Innovation in Regional Statistics. This webinar showcased recent developments in communicating data at the regional and local level, as well as highlighting a range of country specific innovations in sub-national statistics.

For more information on SCORUS please visit our website: http://www.scorus.org.

If you wish to get involved or follow our events join our LinkedIn group.

Krakow Group

Official Statistics are directly affected by the on-going “data revolution”. To fulfill their fundamental mission of informing the general public about social, economic and environmental developments, and assist in the development and evaluation of public policies, Official Statistics must avail of multiple data sources while ensuring quality and preventing misuse. Doing so however requires innovation, engagement with other actors and compliance with strict ethical rules both as regards methodological processes and adherence to democratic principles.

At its 2022 General Assembly, the IAOS has established the “Krakow Working Group” whose aim is to contribute to the collective reflection on the challenges that our “datafied” societies pose to Official Statistics. The Group is co-chaired by Jan Robert Suesser, member of the IAOS Executive Committee and of the ISI Advisory Board on Ethics and Martine Durand, former OECD chief statistician, member of the European Statistics Governance Advisory Body and of the French Statistics Authority. Three initial meetings took place during summer in order to feed the Terms of Reference of the Working Group. After adoption, an extended Working Group will implement its work plan. It is expected that the Group will be able to present early recommendations during the Ottawa WSC, in July 2023.

Statistical Journal of the IAOS (SJIAOS) news

Upcoming changes to SJIAOS Editor in Chief

The IAOS is pleased to welcome the incoming Editor in Chief, Mr. Pietro Gennari, who after a transition period will take up the role with the July 2023 issue (Vol 39, 2023, no 3). Currently, Pietro serves as Chief Statistician at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Pietro will take over the role from Dr. Pieter Everaers who has been at the helm of the Journal since 2019 (Volume 36, 2019). Under Pieter’s leadership, the journal has experienced a large increase in authors and readership. In combination with the SJIAOS website, its discussion platform and news and event pages, SJIAOS has further settled its unique global role in Official Statistics.

Statistical Journal of the IAOS

The September issue of the Statistical Journal of the IAOS (Volume 38, issue 3) is a special issue, fully dedicated to contributions from the International Statistical Organisations (ISOs), members of the Coordination Committee for Statistical Activities (CCSA).  Some 32  manuscripts describe the role and position of the ISO’s and the manifold of topics these organizations are involved in, ranging from the collection of statistical data, setting of standards, developing methodologies and supporting countries and regions as well as in the governance of international and regional statistical systems. These manuscripts cover topics relevant to these organizations and are distributed over four themes: The role of the international statistical organizations in the Governance of Official Statistics; The involvement of the international statistical organizations in measuring the impact of COVID-19;  The involvement of the international statistical organizations in measuring the SDGs;  Methodological activities and projects at the international statistical organizations.

Our thanks to the ISOs who have enabled this issue to be Free to Read

The December issue of the Statistical Journal of the IAOS (Volume 38, issue 4) covers a variety of manuscripts. The editorial, ‘How can Official Statistics find a way out of the fog?’ argues that due to the recent multiplicity of crises and their resulting turbulence, official statistics are confused about the way forward with their programs and strategies. The way forward is not that obvious any more, and earlier work plan objectives now seem less easily achievable. This feeling of loss/ being in the fog, seems to be generating a widely felt need to more deeply reflect on the future role(s) and work of official statistics.

This issue contains further 8 sections and covers some 30 manuscripts. In the first section, Misha Belkindas invites Javier Caranza to give his view on the developments with official statistics in El Salvador. Following up on the joint statement by ISI/IAOS on El Salvador’s decision to dissolve DIGESTYC (the NSO), ISI/IAOS expressed its grave concern about the risks involved. These particularly relate to the mission of El Salvador’s official statistics as well as their professional independence, the qualification of staff and the confidentiality of statistical data.[1] Javier Caranza, director of GeoCensos, an NGO that develops, studies, and implements technology trends to support National Statistical Offices, has worked with DIGESTYC, the NSO in El Salvador.

The second theme in this issue contains three manuscripts on The impact of COVID-19 on Official Statistics. In the third theme, one article discusses data ethics in the frame of the Governance of Official Statistics. The fourth theme with four contributions is the annual presentation of the manuscripts from the Young Statisticians Prize competition (2022). The fifth section on Social Statistics, Population and Housing Census contains five manuscripts, followed by a more specific section with three articles on Measuring Poverty. The sixth theme on Business Statistics contains two and the final section on Data Sources and Methodology with not less than ten rather varied manuscripts closes this issue.

The SJIAOS Website and Discussion Platform

With the September issue, the 13th SJIAOS discussion was launched. This discussion The roles and position of International Statistical Organizations’  builds on the manuscripts in the September special issue with contributions from ISOs. The discussion especially focuses on the global governance of official statistics and the role and position of ISOs. The statements invited the readers to reflect on the role and value of (statistical) data, their role as a public good and the role of the UN  member states, the ISOs and the UN Statistical Commission in the development and management of official statistics.

In parallel, a Special SJIAOS discussion was launched on the challenges that our “datafied” societies pose to Official Statistics. This discussion follows the establishment in April 2022, during the IAOS bi-annual Conference, of the “Krakow Working Group”.  The main points arising from this discussion will constitute useful inputs to the deliberations of the Group. The Krakow Working Group will report on the advancement of its work at the IAOS Conference in Zambia in April 2023 and the ISI WSC in Ottawa in July 2023.

With the December issue, the 14th SJIAOS discussion will be opened. This discussion ‘How can Official Statistics find a way out of the fog?’  builds on the editorial in this December issue, which The readers are invited to react to the statement that the official statistics are currently in a situation of unclearness regarding the strategies and direction. Readers can either react with supporting or disagreeing arguments to this statement or contribute with suggestions on how to solve this situation.

Finally, on behalf of the IAOS Executive Committee, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support for the IAOS. I like to encourage all to contribute to IAOS work and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the IAOS conference in Livingstone and ISI congress in Ottawa.

As the 2022 comes to an end I wish you all a festive Holiday Season and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2023.


Misha Belkindas

IAOS President


[1] ISI IAOS Joint statement by ISI and IAOS on El Salvador’s decision to dissolve DIGESTYC. !9 August 2022. See: https://www.isi-web.org/news/node-2295.