New committee to develop national statistics system

| 20/04/2013

statistics.gif(CNS): The Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) recently launched the National Statistical Coordination Committee (NSCC), whose goal isto better “coordinate the development of the country’s statistical system.” The official launch event took place at the George Town Hospital on 18 April. In her welcome address, ESO Director Maria Zingapan stated that the vision of the NSCC is to have an “information system of a democratic society, serving the Government and the public with data about the situation of the Cayman Islands in four areas – one, economic; two, demographic; three social, and four, environmental.”

Attendees at the launch heard how the NSCC will be comprised of a mix of voluntary public and private sector agencies who together will comprise a system which is intended to “serve the Government and the public with data that are compliant to fundamental principles of statistics” and that, “will lead to the socio-economic development of all residents.” Zingpan said that, “Key users of statistics in the private and public sectors may also be invited, such as business associations and schools.” She said that the ESO hoped “the NSCC will be embraced by all data-producing agencies.”

Providing historical context for the launch, Acting Financial Secretary, Sonia McLaughlin, explained how the NSCC fulfils recommendations made following a ‘statistical assessment mission’ conducted by the Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) in 2005. She said that the mission found that there are “no means of setting priorities in the statistics area,” and therefore recommended the creation of a ‘national statistical coordinating committee’ to advise the chief statistician on “planning and prioritisation in the statistical programme” as well as advising the government on “needed resources to initiate statistical programs, setting the stage for budgetary approval.”

Addressing the question of why only now the government is responding to recommendations from an assessment mission made 8 years ago, McLaughlin said, “The ESO had to put its own house “in order” first before it can have the credibility to coordinate with other departments and ministries in developing the national statistical system.” She explained that a number of reforms at the ESO have been carried out in the interim as a result of the CARTAC findings, although “much remains to be done.”

McLaughlin said that the success of NSCC “will not rest on ESO alone.” She called upon attendees at the event to “think of official statistics beyond the ESO to include all departments and other public sector authorities who will volunteer as part of the NSCC.” She also said she hoped that the NSCC would succeed in its endeavours, “preferably without additional budget from the CIG.”

In her keynote address, premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, spoke about the importance of shifting from ‘silo thinking’ to ‘system thinking’ in government. She said, “Government structures are often associated with the so-called "silo effect,” explaining that this “refers to a palpable lack of the spirit of building each other for the common good.” She added, “This phenomenon has many symptoms, foremost of which is the lack of communication and understanding of a common vision and shared goals and objectives.”

O’Connor-Connolly said that she thought that the NSCC was “a good model of system-wide thinking”. She continued, “It is high time to have a NSCC in the Cayman Islands Government.” Citing an official handbook, she said, “A national statistical system is the “ensemble of statistical organizations and units within a country that jointly collect, process and disseminate official statistics on behalf of national government.”

Talking about its intended benefits, the premier called on all government agencies to join the NSCC. “I note that membership is voluntary, dependent on the willingness of the agencies and subject to their primary mandates. Your membership and active participation will be your great contribution to the cause of reducing the ill effects of silo thinking in government in general and to statistical development in particular,” she said.

The speeches delivered at the event by the premier, ESO Director and the acting financial secretary are attached.

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