Initial ideas for a strategy for the IAOS for the period 2019-21 were discussed at the IAOS General Assembly in August 2019. Following that discussion, a draft strategy was made available for comments with a deadline of 30 November 2019. Comments received were incorporated and this revised version was ratified by the IAOS Executive Committee at its meeting in March 2020.
Official statistics are fundamental to democracy. They provide governments, businesses and civil society with the information they need to make good decisions. And they give people and their representatives the tools to have informed debates, to make choices and to hold decision makers to account.
In 2019 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics which have been adopted by the United Nations to guide all nations in developing statistics that meet the test of practical utility
At the same time, developments in technology mean that it is possible to utilise statistical science to gain insights from data that were unimaginable only a few years ago. This means, as Brad Efron memorably said on receiving the International Prize in Statistics at the 2019 World Statistics Congress, that we are on the verge of a new golden age of statistics.
The IAOS is one of the seven associations of the International Statistical Institute (ISI). The ISI has a medium term vision for the period 2017-21 and the IAOS aligns itself with the ISI vision.
IAOS objectives are:
The world of official statistics is changing fast:
The IAOS has many strengths: a growing membership, a well respected journal (SJIAOS), good conferences, the young statisticians prize (YSP), an active community, and the ability to be “free-thinking”. However, we have limited reach and impact with decision makers, our “call to action” for our supporters is not well understood and work rests on few shoulders.
There are opportunities for us arising from the 25th anniversary of Fundamental Principles, World Statistics Day 2020, the 2020 Census round, data gaps in the indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and recent case studies in official statistics. At the same time, we face threats that are confronting institutions in many countries, in particular loss of political (“enough of experts”) and public (“your GDP not our GDP”) support.
These issues have already been recognised in the IAOS 2017-19 strategic plan which set out to:
The positive progress that has been made against the strategic plan is well set out in the 2018-19 annual report and the report on the 2018 IAOS conference.
Plan Themes for 2019-21
The strategy for 2019-21 builds on the existing plan and our current activities rather than develop new ones:
We can draw on our core principles: the Declaration on Professional Ethics for Statisticians adopted by the ISI in 2010 (succeeding to the 1985 one), as well as in the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics published in 1994.
The unifying idea behind the IAOS and the principles on which we draw is that our central interest is our users: those who rely on us to provide a trustworthy guide for the domains we cover to what is going on in the world around them. What matters is the better use of official statistics in public debates, decision making and democratic accountability. We should focus our work in each of our activity areas on delivering an outcome where the IAOS is seen as a leading global advocate for official statistics with the result that:
This implies five themes for our strategic plan:
The strategic plan could become a call to action:
The 2017-2019 Strategic Plan was discussed at the 2017 General Assembly. This plan builds on the previous Strategic Plan, the new ISI Strategy, and a SWOT analysis. The Strategic objectives of the new plan seek to promote the understanding and advancement of official statistics, and to foster the development of effective and efficient official statistical services, particularly in developing countries, through international contacts among individuals and organizations, including users of official statistics as well as research institutions.
The strategic objectives are:
IAOS members and supporters are encouraged to plan
The 2015 -2017 Strategy had a strong focus on improve and develop the services of IAOS to meet the growing challenges facing official statistics as well as the improvement of statistical infrastructure in developing countries. The plan focused on enhancing relevancy, visibility and partnership as well as institutionalization.