Autonomy of a National Statistical Agency: The Ugandan Model
Ben Kiregyera
Development Information Consultants

Statistical reforms are ongoing in many countries of the world in order to enhance the performance of National Statistical Systems (NSSs). The key driver of these reforms in developed countries seems to be enhancement of the credibility of official statistics while in developing countries the key driver is enhancing the effectiveness of the NSS. In these reforms, there has been a trend toward making the National Statistics Office (NSO) autonomous. Different models of autonomy are in vogue, ranging from the Australian model that vests a lot of power in the Chief Executive of the NSO to a corporate model which vests power in a Board of Directors of the NSO and other models in-between. The corporate model which has been adopted in a number of African countries including Uganda is presented. The model establishes the NSO as a corporate entity with a Board of Directors as its governing body. The main functions of the Board are outlined.

Key lessons learnt in applying this model are presented including the following: autonomy is not a “silver bullet”; there is value in having a small, focused and technocratic Board; a consistent statistical advocacy program is essential to keep statistics on national development agenda; there is need to broaden and deepen coordination, collaboration, networking and information sharing in the NSS; there is value in designing and implementing a National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS); and a congenial work environment and management style is essential.

Continuing challenges include, among others, advocating for statistics but keeping at bay political interference, managing expectations, development of NSDS that dovetails onto national development plans, providing effective leadership to and coordinating the NSS, and attracting and retaining high quality staff.

Keywords: Advocating for statistics; Corporate model; National Statistical Systems; National Strategy for the Development of Statistics

Biography: Prof. Ben Kiregyera is an international statistics consultant. He was the first Director of the African Centre for Statistics at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (2007-2009), the first Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (199-2007) and the second winner of Prof. P.C. Mahalnobos Award for Statistics (2005). He is heavily involved in building and strengthening national statistical systems across Africa.