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Improving Official Statistics

Farewell Message from the President, Dr. Misha Belkindas

Dear Friends of the IAOS,

In July, the IAOS community held the 2023 General Assembly during the WSC in Ottawa. As the retiring President of the IAOS, it was my privilege to highlight many of our achievements over the 2021-2023 period. This note reviews some of these.

The past few years have been intense and trying for many worldwide, both on a professional and personal level, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts of various scales unfolding across the globe. As the world has transitioned into a new normal, so has the official statistical community. The pandemic emphasized the need to revisit and modify data collection methods, to get back up to speed with population censuses in new realities, to continue to produce relevant and reliable statistics for decision makers and the public in a timely manner and to ensure adherence to the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics (FPOS), as a whole. National statistical systems were also faced with the demand for more timely and granular data, as well as the need for collaborative cooperation with data producers and users beyond the national statistical system.

Looking back at this time, I am glad to note the role the IAOS has played, within its mandate, in helping the official statistical community to tackle these challenges. After the three-year gap, the IAOS organized two IAOS international conferences in Krakow, Poland in 2022 and Livingstone, Zambia in 2023 (delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic). The Krakow conference was the first international official statistical conference organized in a face-to-face format since the pandemic. These conferences served as a platform for knowledge sharing and discussions among the broad statistical community on most pressing and topical issues in the field, as well as provided professional training opportunities for young statisticians from developing and other countries. My thanks to the programme chairs (Jan Robert Suesser – Krakow and Oliver Chinganya – Zambia) and the host agencies for their efforts to ensure the success of these events.

The IAOS has offered a rich webinar and online training program on topics of professional interest to statistical practitioners, as well as topics of interest for a broader statistical community, including ethics, trust, governance and other use of data, and other issues impacting official statistics. The IAOS has strengthened its partnership with international organizations and private companies through joint webinars and other activities. I would also like to commend the achievements of the Statistical Journal of the IAOS (SJIAOS) under the leadership of Dr. Pieter Everaers, Editor in Chief, and welcome our new Editor in Chief, Mr. Pietro Gennari, who took over the role in July. The journal continually serves as a strong voice for official statistics and attracts a growing number of readers. The SJIAOS also enjoys an increasing rate of citations as an indication of the credibility of the journal.

I would also like to acknowledge the annual IAOS Young Statisticians Prize competition which continues to enjoy strong support across the official statistical community. A special big thanks to IAOS Executive Committee member Gemma van Halderen, who has successfully led the competition for a number of years.

The IAOS took a firm stand in support of official statisticians faced with outside violations of the FPOS by Governments. Furthermore, we established a Krakow Working Group to work on the issues of ethics, trust and misuse of data and to reflect on the burning challenges official statistics face in today’s datafied societies.

Finally, the Friends of Official Statistics Group established in partnership with the UNSD, is expected to also advance the achievement of IAOS objectives.

As the 2023 Annual Report shows, IAOS membership numbers have increased over the last two years, with an associated improvement in the financial picture.

As I handover the IAOS Presidency to Dominik Rozkrut, I look back at my term with a strong sense of fulfillment and gratitude. It was a pleasure to work and collaborate with so many true professionals in delivering for the statistical community, sharing achievements, and discussing new prospects for cooperation. My special thanks go to all the members of the ExCo for their dedication and commitment to the IAOS on a voluntary basis over the last two years. Attending regular virtual meetings and making substantive inputs to discussions despite early morning or late evening hours, were just one of the challenges the ExCo has successfully managed. I am also very grateful to Nancy McBeth and Lilia Saetova for their invaluable advice and support throughout my term.

Finally, I wish the IAOS all the best for the future, as we work together to continue to deliver good results.

Warm regards,

Misha Belkindas

IAOS President 2021 – 2023


July 2023