President’s message: January 2020

President’s message: January 2020

 

Happy New Year to all members (and potential new members). If you have not done so yet, now is the time to renew (or take up membership) for the year ahead – membership instructions can be accessed here. By doing so you will get reduced rates for our conference in Zambia and access to all other aspects of our network.

 

Since I last wrote, Jo Green and I have visited Zambia to see for ourselves the preparations for the Zambia conference. The conference venue in Livingstone will be perfect for us. The facilities are excellent and the management are looking forward to welcoming us. The location is spectacular within the game park and just a few minutes walk to Victoria Falls. We also spent some time with our colleagues at ZamStats. The Interim Secretary General, Mulenga Musepa, and his colleagues are getting everything prepared and leading a local organising committee that brings together a range of government agencies, universities and others. You can read the report of our visit here. Alongside this, Oliver Chinganya, who is leading the Scientific Programme Committee for us, reports that there has been a high number of proposals for sessions and papers. More information about the conference will follow soon.

 

In parallel, we have been receiving submissions for the Young Statistician’s Prize which is to be presented at the conference. Gemma Van Halderen and her team organising the Prize extended the deadline to help those who had trouble meeting the end December date because of the challenges of making a submission in that month in many countries.

 

Continuing the focus on Africa, I attended a meeting on Data Governance in Tunis organised by the International Statistical Institute, Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics, African Union and National Statistical Institute of Tunisia. The aim was to help develop innovative strategies for structuring improvements to statistical systems. Four themes were explored: data collection; data management, data dissemination and a final session, which I chaired, on better use of data for policy purposes. It was impressive to see a high level of interest from the press. This reflected the relevance and salience of the topic way beyond our community.

 

Key action areas arising from the Tunis meeting related to how best we can learn from each other. Development of south-south cooperation in general and specifically the creation of associations of statisticians at regional and national levels were seen as promising areas for progress. The IAOS is well placed to support such efforts and this question is under discussion with the Executive Committee.

 

In December I was a keynote speaker at the 4th International Conference on Administrative Data in Cardiff, Wales. It was an excellent event with a great diversity of presentations reflecting the increasing maturity of administrative data as an essential part not just of official statistics but of academic research in a wide variety of disciplines. My focus was on questions of data quality and the necessity for those using these data sources to understand issues of bias and imprecision and to work effectively to attain respect from the public. 

 

In the coming weeks I am hoping to join our friends in the Ghana Statistical Service for the launch of their national statistics strategy and to attend the United Nations Statistical Commission. I hope to see some of you there.

 

 

 

John Pullinger.

IAOS Members Newsletter November 2019

President’s message, November 2019

Dear IAOS Members

I have been enjoying getting to know lots more people over the last month. The more I see, the more impressed I am with what is going on in our network. I can also more clearly see the potential for the official statistics community to have a stronger voice and greater impact for public good in countries around the world.

The Young Statistician Prize 2020 is well underway. Please reach out to your networks and encourage submissions. This year we have introduced a new category of Honourable Mention for an author from a developing country. We have also brought the submission date forward to 30 November in order to make announcements ahead of the 2020 Conference in Zambia. So please, if you haven’t put in a submission yet, get writing soon.

We have also announced the call for papers for the 2020 conference.  (https://www.iaos-isi.org/index.php/conferences)

The conference Better Lives 2030: Mobilising the power of data for Africa and the world -17th IAOS Conference/ 1st ISI Regional Statistics Conference for Africa, Hosted by the Zambia Statistics Agency will take place at the Avani Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia, 19-21 May 2020.  Proposals for sessions, papers as well as events before and after the conference close on 31 December 2019.

Members will also be interested to read these attached two pieces about Andreas Georgiou. The first, from the American Statistical Association (https://www.amstat.org/asa/News/Eight-Years-of-Government-Persecution-of-Greek-Statistician.aspx ), updates on eight years of persecution of Andreas and the second, by Miranda Xafa in World Economics (https://www.worldeconomics.com/Files/Xafa.pdf ), gives a history of Andreas’ plight. An event hosted by the ICAEW featuring Andreas (and Ed Humpherson from the UK) is also worth a look (https://audioboom.com/posts/7379312-350m-truth-lies-and-numbers ).

In my last message I mentioned four events I was due to attend. The first, the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange (DG4X) (https://www.bloomberg.com/lp/d4gx/ ), was an inspiring gathering of mainly private sector data scientists keen to work on public good projects. Michael Bloomberg’s influence as former Mayor of New York was clear through a number of excellent project case studies featuring cities from around the world. 

The second event was the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data Board meeting ( www.data4sdgs.org ). We discussed how best the Partnership can scale its impact now it has become well established. Learning from the very positive developments in official statistics in Ghana provided an excellent touch point for our discussion.

The third event was meetings with Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the United Nations Statistics Division and two of his Branch Heads Francesca Perucci and Ronald Jansen (Ronald is also an IAOS EXCO member). They are all keen to build links with our community and I discussed with them opportunities coming up, including through our conference next year.

The fourth event was the conference on Valuing Statistics hosted by the United Kingdom. This event was about taking the conclusions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) report (www.unece.org/index.php?id=51139 ) and turning them into concrete actions. I used the occasion to set out the important role played by the IAOS.

As well as these events I met Roger Taylor, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom’s new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation ( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation ). Roger was interested to explore the role of the National Statistical Office in an ethical data ecosystem.

Finally, I was a speaker at the PARIS21 Cross-Regional Forum ( https://paris21.org/news-center/events/cross-regional-forum-2019 ) which has been focused on the issue of trust in Official Statistics. There was a super line up of speakers to help delegates get creative and inspired to act. PARIS21 launched their Trust Initiative at the event (https://trustinitiative2020.paris21.org/ ). Do consider whether you want to apply.

In the weeks ahead, following a meeting of EXCO, I will be visiting our colleagues at the Zambia CSO to help take forward planning for our conference and also attending the ISI/IFC meeting on Data Governance in Tunis.

If you have some other opportunities to spread the word about the IAOS, or have information to share with others interested in official statistics, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

John Pullinger

IAOS President

November 2019

 

 

Deadline for Proposals for 2020 Zambia Conference: Better Lives for 2030 extended to January 21, 2020

As some people incurred challenges in submitting proposals and therefore in an effort to accommodate their request, the deadline has been extended to January 21, 2021. As a result of the extension, the SPC is expected to finalize the conference programme on January 31, 2020.

 

John Pullinger

IAOS President 2019-2021

IAOS Members Newsletter - September 2019

Members Newsletter September 2019

 

Dear IAOS Members

I feel very fortunate to have been elected as President of the International Association for Official Statistics for the period 2019-21. 

 

I have the good fortune to be following Mario Palma, and his predecessors in the role. They have built the Association into what it is today and my task is made all the easier by their leadership over many years. 

I also have the good fortune to be part of a brilliant and diverse newly elected Executive Committee (EXCO) team [ https://www.iaos-isi.org/index.php/latestnews/246-announcement-iaos-executive-committe-2019-2021 ]. The IAOS is an entirely voluntary Association and the commitment of those who are elected to serve is testament to how much they care about the role of official statistics in serving the public good across the globe. 

Finally, I have the good fortune to come into the role at a critical time for our community: the need for trustworthy numbers to guide decision making is everywhere evident; the opportunities arising from new data sources, technologies and methods are tantalising; and the IAOS has a unique place, both in upholding the centrality of official statistics to effective democracy and in calling out those who seek to undermine it and seduce others to ignore evidence and instead rely on anecdote, whim or populist rhetoric. 

Now is a time for us to find our voice.

One month into the role I am greatly encouraged. The World Statistics Congress in Kuala Lumpur (with IAOS EXCO member Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, Chair of the organising committee, a most wonderful host) included many sessions organised by the IAOS and many other sessions strongly linked to our interests, such as on statistical literacy. 

 

I particularly enjoyed the passion displayed in the session on official statistics and Parliaments organised by our founding President, Jean-Louis Bodin (one of no less than eight IAOS Presidents present at the WSC). There are plenty of other highlights on YouTube [

My thanks also to Rolando Ocampo, who was the IAOS representative on the WSC Scientific Committee.

Our new Executive Committee has got off to a great start and we have launched a consultation into the IAOS strategy for 2019-2021. Make sure you have your say  

Plans are well advanced for our conference in Zambia (19-21 May 2020 - note for your diary) which promises to be an exciting celebration of all that we value as a professional community. 

Our Journal is thriving and developing fast in the hands of new Editor-in-Chief, Pieter Everaers and his impressive editorial team. Do you have a paper or an article that could inspire others? Or a contribution to make to our online discussion platform? Register at www.officialstatistics.com and have your say! Our first discussion topic is based on the recently published article “You say you want a [data] revolution”: A proposal to use unofficial statistics for the SDG Global Indicator Framework by Steve MacFeely and Bojan Nastav.

It was a great joy for me to present the Young Statisticians Prizes for 2019 at the closing ceremony of the World Statistics Congress.  Congratulations again to the 2019 winners. YSP 2020 is our tenth year. Do look out for good nominees. Applications for 2020 are now open http://www.iaos-isi.org/index.php/statistics-prize with a cash prize and a trip to Zambia on offer for the winners.

There are plenty of other opportunities too to contribute to the work of the IAOS. As well as the Conference, Journal and Young Statisticians Prize we are looking for people to help with communications, including engagement on social media and development of our website. Contact us to get involved at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at https://twitter.com/IAOS_stat 

Our membership has been growing fast but with more members we can do even more: if you have not joined yet do so; if you are already a member get a friend (or maybe five or more...) to sign up https://www.iaos-isi.org/index.php/about-us/join-us ]. We have had to increase the membership rates for 2020 to cover overhead charges levied on us by the ISI, but the new full member rate of E50 for the year remains great value and there are discounts for members in developing countries, students, individuals who work in an organisation who is an institutional member and Journal article contributors.

It is also important that we share experience and support each other. The case of Andreas Georgiou is an especially important one. The support given by Kathy Wallman and others in a recent letter to the Financial Times (Brussels must assess Greek judicial reform efforts ) calling for an end to the persecution of Andreas will hopefully make a difference.

As for me, I will be out and about spreading the word. September’s activities include the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange [ https://www.bloomberg.com/lp/d4gx/], the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data Board meeting [www.data4sdgs.org/], meetings with Director of the United Nations Statistics Division and his colleagues, and the Valuing Statistics conference.

 If you have some other opportunities to spread the word about the IAOS, or have information to share with others interested in official statistics, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

John Pullinger

IAOS President

September 2019