Appendix 2. Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
December 2013
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The Statistical Commission1

1.1Bearing in mind that official statistical information is an essential basis for development in the economic, demographic, social, and environmental fields and for mutual knowledge and trade among the States and peoples of the world,

1.2Bearing in mind that the essential trust of the public in official statistical information depends to a large extent on respect for the fundamental values and principles, which are the basis of any democratic society, which seeks to understand itself and to respect the rights of its members,

1.3Bearing in mind that the quality of official statistics, and thus the quality of the information available to the Government, the economy, and public depends largely on the cooperation of citizens, enterprises, and other respondents in providing appropriate and reliable data needed for necessary statistical compilations and on the cooperation between users and producers of statistics to meet users’ needs,

1.4Recalling the efforts of governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in statistics to establish standards and concepts to allow comparisons among countries,

1.5 Recalling also the International Statistical Institute Declaration of Professional Ethics,

1.6Having expressed the opinion that resolution C (47), adopted by the Economic Commission for Europe on April 15, 1992, is of universal significance,

1.7Noting that, at its eighth session held at Bangkok in November 1993, the Working Group of Statistical Experts, assigned by the Committee on Statistics of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific to examine the Fundamental Principles, had agreed in principle to the ECE version and had emphasized that those principles were applicable to all nations,

1.8Noting also that, at its eighth session held in Addis Ababa in March 1994, the Joint Conference of African Planners, Statisticians and Demography considered that the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics are of universal significance,

1.9Adopts the present principles of official statistics:

  • (i) Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of democratic society, serving the government, the economy, and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social, and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honor citizens’ entitlement to public information.
  • (ii) To retain trust in official statistics, the statistical agencies need to decide according to strictly professional consideration, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage, and presentation of statistical data.
  • (iii) To facilitate a correct interpretation of the data, the statistical agencies are to present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods, and procedures of the statistics.
  • (iv) The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.
  • (v) Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Statistical agencies are to choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs, and the burden on respondents.
  • (vi) Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes.
  • (vii) The laws, regulations, and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public.
  • (viii) Coordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system.
  • (ix) The use by statistical agencies in each country of international concepts, classifications, and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels.
  • (x) Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries.

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), 1994, Report of the Special Session of the Statistical Commission, E/1994/29 (New York, April 11–15, 1994).

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