Statistics Finland – An Example of a 360° Assessment of Trust in Official Statistics
Heli Jeskanen-Sundström, Heli Mikkelä
Statistics Finland, Finland

At Statistics Finland, trust in official statistics and in statistical organisations is considered a fundamental basis for the legitimacy and operating conditions. Thus, stakeholders' opinions about Statistics Finland are regularly monitored with a number of different surveys and questionnaires.

The most traditional of the surveys is the corporate image survey among the general public, carried out since the 1970's. At the beginning, it was carried out with variable frequency. In the 1990's, the image survey was established as part of Statistics Finland's operational environment scanning process and was scheduled to be carried out every few years. Recently, it has been conducted every second year, the latest in spring 2011. The fieldwork of the survey is outsourced to an independent organisation.

An international framework for a corporate image survey of a statistical organisation was drafted within an OECD working group in 2009-2010. It was implemented in the 2011 corporate image survey of Statistics Finland to ensure international comparability of the results.

In addition to the general corporate image survey, we conduct a number of other surveys among our stakeholders. These include such as the user survey (every second year; directed to the users of statistical information), the personnel survey (annual), questionnaires to users of specific statistics or products, and feedback questionnaires to all purchases or larger tailored information services.

All the surveys and questionnaires conducted include some common elements related to the basic concepts of official statistics (e.g. objectivity, impartiality, credibility, clarity, confidentiality, etc.) and to the general image and user-orientation of Statistics Finland. By the co-ordination, we want to ensure that we can get a 360-degree view of our organisation and its functions.

This far, the results show that official statistics are highly approved of, trusted and relied upon in Finland. For example, over 80 per cent of Finns consider official statistics reliable and useful. Among the frequent users, the figures are even higher. This is considered a considerable asset for Statistics Finland, and all measures are taken to maintain these positive results.

In this paper, a general overview of the surveys and questionnaires with the main results related to trust in and the profile of official statistics will be presented and discussed.

Keywords: Trust; Reliability; Legitimacy

Biography: Ms Heli Jeskanen-Sundström is the Director General of Statistics Finland. She started her career in Statistics Finland in 1968 and has worked in a variety of statistical areas among them national accounts, business statistics and co-ordination of official statistics. She received her degree in Economics (M. Soc. Sc.) from the University of Helsinki 1976.

She has served as President of the International Association for Official Statistics. Currently she is the Chair of the Conference of European Statisticians UNECE/CES and a member of the ESS Partnership Group. Ms Jeskanen-Sundström has written several articles in the field of statistics and has been invited lecturer to several international and national statistical conferences.