Relevant official statistics, freely available to all from trusted institutions, is critical to both a properly functioning market economy and a democratic society and it is the role of government to provide them and to maintain confidence in them. In the complex and continually evolving environment in which we live today, good analysis, policy development, regulation and performance measurement is central to national social and economic performance, and therefore a very significant public good. The GFC should have taught us this if nothing else.
Yet in Australia, as in many other countries, government investment in the activities of official statistical agencies has been declining in real terms for some time now. At the same time, funding of non-official statistical and related research activities from both public and private sources appears to be expanding considerably.
These trends offer opportunities as well as threats to national statisticians. We need to understand why politicians, policymakers, media commentators and the community more generally are less inclined to draw clear distinctions between official and unofficial sources of statistics. We also need to continue to attract and retain the skilled staff necessary to ensure the long term sustainability of the key statistical services we provide that assist and encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community.
Keywords: Official statistics
Biography: Brian Pink is Australian Statistician