Laying the Foundation for Standardisation in the European Statistical System
Raoul Depoutot
INSEE, Paris, France

The European statistical system (ESS) has identified standardisation as a mean to improve efficiency in the long term. Currently, the system is based on output harmonisation: EU statistical regulations define the features of statistics to be produced and the production process is considered to be under the responsibility of each National Statistical Institute (NSI). In order to prepare for future decisions in this domain, a team of statisticians from CBS (NL), Destatis (DE), KSH (HU), Istat (IT), ONS (UK), GUS (PL) and Insee (FR) has investigated some issues in standardisation with the support of Eurostat (EU).

First, the group dealt with the definition of standardisation. In our view, the word standard is often used by official statisticians in the sense of agreed concept or generally recommended guideline. When referring to the requirements of standard organisations, very few of these agreed statistical guidelines could be classified as formal standards. A stocktaking exercise of literature in the standardisation domain has shown that there is a great convergence on the characteristics of a standardisation process and the resulting definition of a standard.

Second, the group has conducted an analysis of some EU methodological handbooks to put forward which conditions of formal standards where fulfilled, and which where not.

Third, a typology of formal standards that could be adopted in official statistics has been proposed.

Fourth, the features of such a standardisation process have been analysed with the aim of distinguishing what would be fit for the production of official statistics in the context of the ESS. In particular, the specific decision making processes of the ESS with respect to various domains like definition of statistics to be produced on a compulsory basis and allocation of budget to NSIs have been taken into account.

In all these aspects, the group has clarified the vocabulary used in various contexts.

All this food for thought will be delivered to a high-level group of the European Statistical System, which will use these proposals to draft a strategy for the development of standardisation in the ESS.

The presentation will highlight the results obtained. It will be shown how features that are incorporated in formal standards could help in the process of improving the efficiency of the ESS system. Some hints on the conditions under which such a system could be integrated beyond the EU will be provided.


US NIST (2009), The ABC of standards activities - Nistir 7614

ISO (2004), Standardization and related activities General vocabulary

CEN (2006), Terms of reference of the Certification Board

Keywords: Standard; Conformity; Process; Efficiency

Biography: Raoul Depoutot is Head of the Europe and International Relations division at Insee (France). He has been involved in the development of the EU definiton of quality in statistics and its reporting in the 90s.

He has been responsible for Structural Business Statistics at Insee and was Head of the reingeneering program of these statistics from 2005 till 2010.

He is the coordinator of an EU network of statisticians that prepares for the development of standardisation inside the European statistical system.