Section 1: Characteristics of an effective national statistical system

Introduction

This section addresses the characteristics, or foundations, of an effective national statistical system.

To ensure the credibility, relevance and sustainability of a statistical system, certain foundations are essential. In this section, each of the foundations will be examined in detail in its own chapter. The chapters will convey good management practices for each relevant field, and explain the significance of these practices and how to implement them. These chapters will also focus on Canadian practices within the context of a national statistical agency operating as part of a centralized system.

The first chapter of this section concerns the leadership and coordination of a national statistical system. It highlights the importance of the legal context in which the system operates, irrespective of the type of statistical system; the role of the chief statistician; the fundamental values of the statistical agency; and the planning and management mechanisms.

The second chapter considers the importance of the ten United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics,and the reasons for which statistical agencies should view them as pillars of their activities. Examples are provided to acquaint readers with the mechanisms and tools used by Statistics Canada, and to demonstrate how the agency ensures that each principle is observed.

The third chapter describes the need for statistical agencies to use international standards and apply them in the way most appropriate and relevant to their specific context. This chapter highlights the strategic considerations and processes associated with adopting, implementing and maintaining international standards.

The fourth chapter presents the need to consult with data users and maintain key relationships with them. To ensure that its data are relevant, a statistical agency must be attuned to its users and must understand and address user needs to the best of its ability. Examples are provided to demonstrate the consultation strategies and mechanisms Statistics Canada uses to reach out to its different audiences.

The fifth chapter examines quality management as a key determinant of the sustainability of the statistical system. It describes not only the different dimensions of quality, but also the mechanisms and tools that a statistical agency should develop and implement for optimal quality management.

The last chapter explores the opportunity for statistical agencies to carry out cost-recovery projects to enhance the relevance of their statistical product line and reduce data gaps. It also describes the preconditions of acceptance for such projects and the benefits they can produce, within both the statistical agency supplying the data and the organization receiving the data.

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