ISI AND IAOS LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR ANDREAS GEORGIOU

August 2021

The International Statistical Institute and the International Association for Official Statistics continue to be very concerned at the legal action being taken against the former head of the Greek Statistics Office (ELSTAT).

We understand that the decision of the Greek civil court against him for alleged slander is due to be reviewed by the Greek Supreme Court in the near future.

The ISI and IAOS have followed Mr Georgiou’s various cases with growing concern, as this has now stretched over ten years.

The slander charges specifically relate to a public statement Georgiou made in his official role as President of ELSTAT while fulfilling his responsibility to defend the official deficit and debt statistics for Greece produced under his leadership. These statistics have been fully validated by Eurostat — the statistical office of the EU. The UN’s Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the European Statistics Code of Practice give statistical offices the right to comment publicly on criticisms and misuse of statistics.

Paragraph 20 of the Preamble to EU Regulation 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the Statistical Law of the EU, states that the national statistical authorities of the EU should enjoy professional independence and ensure impartiality and high quality in the production of European statistics in accordance with the principles in the European Statistics Code of Practice (endorsed by the Commission in its Recommendation of 25 May 2005 on the independence, integrity and accountability of the national and Community statistical authorities).  We cannot but express our utter surprise and indignation that Georgiou is now called upon by the plaintiff in the slander case, to immediately pay damages and make a public apology for defending the revision of the misreported statistics produced during the plaintiff’s tenure (2006-2010) as director of the national accounts division of the Greek statistics office. And this even as the case is being reviewed by the Greek Supreme Court.

We restate our grave concern that these continued prosecutions have damaged the scientific integrity of highly regarded work addressing Greece’s highly problematic fiscal statistical reporting from the 2000s, which was according to many, including the European Parliament, a major contributing factor to the Greek debt crisis. This is not just a civil case between two private individuals; it is a case fundamental to official statistics production, scientific freedom, scientific responsibility and democratic and human rights. It has implications for the international statistical system, and the rights of government statisticians to defend their statistics in an open and transparent manner as allowed under the UN Principles and the European Code. Undoubtedly the implications are not confined to the statistical sphere, but extend to economic prosperity, democracy and human rights.

We demand an end to the now 10-year persecution of Andreas Georgiou and his full exoneration, in consequence of the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics and the EU Statistical Law (223/20090), thereby signalling Greece’s commitment to accurate and ethical government statistics.

Stephen Penneck                              
President                                         
International Statistical Institute     

Misha Belkindas
President
International Association for Official Statistics


(Also see our previous Statements and Letters concerning this issue.)

 

 

 

Message from the President

Dear Friends 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have dramatic effects on people all over the world. There has been devastating tragedy in term of loss of life and there will be longer term consequences for economies and societies that will emerge over the years ahead. I cannot recall a time when statistics have been so much the currency of debate as people, governments and businesses have tried to work out what is going on and how they should act. 

The global community of official statistics has stepped up in an extraordinary way to meet the challenge of providing the information needed to guide the decisions that must be made whilst coping with personal anxiety and sadness as well as the restrictions that have come from lockdowns on themselves, their colleagues and their work. Official statisticians have rightly received praise for providing a most essential public service in difficult times. 

The International Association for Official Statistics has played its part. Whilst important planned activities have not taken place, notably our conference in Zambia, we have managed to deliver well against our strategic goals by adapting our work to the current environment. The role our Journal has played over the last year has been especially noteworthy. I would like to play tribute to our Editor-in-Chief, Pieter Everaers, his energetic and committed team of volunteer helpers and IOS Press for their support in finding a strong voice for official statistics during this period. I would like to commend in particular the work to issue a special issue of the Journal celebrating the work of official statisticians in Africa and the establishment of the official statistics discussion platform. 

As I hand over the Presidency to Misha Belkindas, I look back on my term with great fondness. It has been a joy to work with so many wonderful people and to share and celebrate the work that is done, often without great recognition, by the community of official statistics. Our work helps guide decisions that make our lives more safe, prosperous and fulfilling, our communities more just and secure and our world more sustainable for our children. There can be fewer more vital roles in society. 

I would like to thank the members of the IAOS Executive Committee over the last two years who have worked hard to keep the show on the road and adapt to the rapidly changing environment. I am particularly grateful to those Executive Committee members who have got up in the middle of the night to attend virtual meetings. I would also like to give my heartfelt thanks to Nancy McBeth and Jo Green who have advised and supported me throughout my term. 

If you are not already a member of the Association, join us. Our voice is stronger with each new member.

John Pullinger

Announcement of Results of 2021 Young Statistician Prize

The International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) is pleased to announce the results of the 2021 IAOS Young Statisticians Prize.   Once again, the standard was very high and we would like to thank all those who entered.  

The winner will present their paper at a mutually agreed international conference.  Winning papers are also eligible to be published in a future issue of the SJIAOS.

The IAOS would like to congratulate the winners and thank all entrants. We would also like to thank the International Judging panel for their efforts.

 

The three winning papers and their authors are:

  1. Elham Sirag and Mr. Gautier Gissler (Statistics Canada): Estimating excess mortality in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic: Statistical methods adapted for rapid response in an evolving crisis 
  1. Kevin Kloos (Statistics Netherlands (CBS): A new generic method to improve machine learning applications in official statistics 
  1. Mr Caio Gonçalves (João Pinheiro Foundation) and Luna Hidalgo (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)): Model-based single-month unemployment rate estimates for the Brazilian Labour Force Survey

 

The special commendation for a paper from a developing nation is: 

Mr. Muhammad Fajar and Mr. Zelani Nurfalah (Badan Pusat Statistik –Statistics Indonesia): Hybrid Fourier Regression-Multilayer Perceptron Neural Network for Forecasting

 

John Pullinger

IAOS President 2019-2021

Announcement for the 2021 IAOS General Assembly virtual meeting

The 2021 IAOS General Assembly will be held on Thursday 8th July, 2021 at 2.00 - 3:00 pm (CEST) in virtual format.

If you wish to attend, please email Jo Green ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) to receive a link to join the meeting.

The agenda for the meeting will be:

  1. Minutes of 2020 General Assembly: for agreement
  2. IAOS Annual Report 2020-2021: for agreement
  3. SJIAOS
  4. Young Statistician Prize
  5. Formal introduction of new President and Executive Committee 2021-2023
  6. IAOS Strategic Plan 2021-2023
  7. Conference plans
  8. Other business

Please also advise Jo Green if you have any other items for discussion.

ISI AND IAOS EXPRESS CALL FOR AN END TO THE PERSECUTING OF ANDREAS GEORGIOU

The ISI and IAOS have followed with growing concern the continued persecution through the justice system in Greece of Andreas Georgiou, former Head of the Greek Statistical Office, ELSTAT.

Also see the previous ISI Statements and Letters Concerning Statistical Ethics.

A Greek appeals court has found Andreas Georgiou liable for slander. The slander charges relate to a public statement Georgiou made in his official role as President of ELSTAT while fulfilling his responsibility to defend the official deficit and debt statistics for Greece produced under his leadership. These statistics have been fully validated by Eurostat — the statistical office of the EU. The UN’s Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics give statistical offices the right to comment publicly on criticisms and misuse of statistics.

Greece’s legal actions and decisions against Georgiou on several closely related cases is now in its tenth year with the initial legal proceedings against him having begun in September 2011.

We restate our grave concern that these continued prosecutions have damaged the scientific integrity of highly regarded work addressing Greece’s problematic fiscal statistical reporting from the 2000s. This case has implications for the international statistical system, and the rights of government statisticians to defend their statistics, as allowed under the UN Principles.

In September 2018 Georgiou was awarded a special commendation by the ISI, the American Statistical Association, the Royal Statistical Society and other statistical societies to acknowledge his upholding of the highest professional standards in his public service in the pursuit of integrity of statistical systems.

Defending official statistics, as required by the UN Fundamental Principles of Statistics and the European Statistics Code of Practice, should not lead to legal prosecution.

We join with other statistical associations in:

  1. Urging the end to the now 10-year persecution of Andreas Georgiou and his full exoneration, thereby signalling Greece’s commitment to accurate and ethical government statistics.
  2. Calling on the international statistical community to express their support for Andreas Georgiou in media outlets throughout the world.

John Bailer
President
International Statistical Institute

John Pullinger
President
International Association for Official Statistics

31 March 2021