Research Outline

National Statistical System


To understand best practices for establishing a National Statistical System by OECD countries, looking at resources form the last 5 years and including a high-level overview that includes information on referents, database ownership, and types of stats produced.

Early Findings

Establishing a National Statistical System

  • The OECD's Guidelines on Good Statistical Practice offer guidance to countries establishing a National Statistics System (NSS).
  • The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) helps countries establish a National Statistics System through NSS peer reviews, which focus on the governance, "organisation, strategic planning, service to users, funding, and sustainability" of an NSS, and through NSS assessments, which "identify the necessary statistics and infrastructure for a country to develop its national statistics system in order to support good governance and sound decision making."
  • The NSS "typically consists of the national statistical institute (NSI) and any other institutions and administrations that produce official statistics."
  • It is recommended that the NSS adheres to National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS), which is supported by the Paris 21 consortium.
  • Paris 21 offers several document on developing an NSDS.

OECD Case Studies


  • According to the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Canada is the national statistical system of Canada.
  • It collects data on population census, income tax data, and other industry and geographic data.
  • It was established in 1971 when the new Statistics Act expanded the mandate of the original Dominion Bureau of Statistics, established in 1918, "to collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and condition of the people.
  • While no one appears to have the title "referent," the organization is overseen by the Chief Statistician of Canada, who reports to the Minister of Industry, who is in turn responsible to Parliament.
  • The Chief Statistician has seven Assistant Chief Statisticians, four of whom deal with program area and three of whom focus on technical and management operations.
  • Statistics Canada uses a matrix structure, which has allowed it "to consolidate its infrastructure functions to achieve efficiencies, to increase flexibility, and to maintain centres of technical expertise."
  • Statistics Canada's objectives are to provide statistical data and analysis and to promote "sound statistical standards and practices."

Summary of Initial Findings Related to Goals

Our initial research has identified some references to guidelines for establishing a national statistics system for OECD countries, as well as a high-level overview of the establishment and organization of Statistics Canada.