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Kiyatkina Yelena Vasilevna
Head of the Department on Organization and
Methodology of Statistical Works State statistics
committee  of the Republic of Uzbekistan

In the conditions of an open economy, one of the most important tools of public administration is the availability of diverse and operational information, and a reliable and relevant state statistics is the fundamental element of a single information space.

Modern statistics of Uzbekistan is not just a "machine" for collecting   simple summation of state statistical reporting received from enterprises, and a large number of statistical and analytical calculations and estimates based on international methodology.

For the preparation of statistical tables and analytical materials, there are currently used more than a million diverse indicators coming from various sources, including reports of legal entities, analytical materials and administrative databases of government agencies, survey and direct observations conducted by specially trained interviewers.

On their basis, sets of statistical data are formed and disseminated, allowing to evaluate macroeconomic indicators, to carry out an analysis of the reasons and factors that affect the socio-economic situation in the republic and regions, and also to compare the indicators of Uzbekistan with the relevant data of other countries.  

At the same time, out of more than 10 million consolidated or calculated indicators annually compiled by the state statistics bodies within the framework of the State Statistical Work Program, 22.9% is accounted for by macroeconomic statistics, 51.8% by real sector statistics, 25.3% by social statistics.

At the same time, society and the economy, in order to ensure their sustainable development, place ever higher demands not only on diversity, but also on the quality of statistical information, because insufficiently accurate and reliable data can lead to unjustified or erroneous economic decisions or social measures.

To ensure this quality, it is necessary not only to apply in statistical calculations of scientific statistical methodology harmonized on an international scale, but also the introduction on a systematic basis of innovative methods and technologies for quality management.

National statistical organizations of most countries regularly evaluate and take measures to improve the quality of statistical processes and statistical results on the basis of a unified methodology agreed upon at the international level.

In international statistical practice, the term "quality" is interpreted  in a broad sense and covers all aspects of how well statistical processes and statistical results meet the expectations of consumers and stakeholders.

Good quality means not only satisfying the needs of consumers in datasets, but also to eliminate respondents' concerns about the report load and confidentiality of reports, ensure a reliable methodology for statistical calculations, optimize the cost of preparing and disseminating data, the availability of a legislative framework that guarantees impartiality and objectivity of information.

Since the mid-1990s, a number of countries and international organizations have been developing quality management tools, from conception to detailed sets of procedures and quality indicators. However, today there is no single, coordinated world-wide guide for use by national statistical offices.

The most widely used quality standard in the world is a series of quality management systems ISO 9001, however, according to some international experts, the ISO series "ISO 20252: 2006 market, opinion, social research, vocabulary and service requirements" is more suitable for use by statistical bodies or specialized quality tools such as the European Quality Management Foundation EFQM Improvement Model, the Standards for Total Quality Management (TQM), the Sba (BSC), and other.

In 1994, the United Nations Statistical Commission published the "Basic Principles of Official Statistics of the United Nations". The 10 principles mentioned in this document are recognized by the UN as fundamental to the quality management system in statistics. In addition, the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities published in 2005 the "Principles of the United Nations Regulating International Statistical Activities".

Within the framework of the European Statistical System, the "ESS Quality Declaration", adopted by the Committee on the Statistical Program in 2001, was also developed and, based on the European Code of Statistical Practice, published in 2005.

The Code obliges Eurostat and the national statistical offices of the Member States to adhere to a common and comprehensive approach to the production of high-quality statistics. It includes a definition of the concept of "quality statistics" and 15 basic principles. For each principle, the Code sets a set of indicators that reflect best practice.

In order to apply the agreed approach by Eurostat, the "Quality Assurance Framework" has been developed, which includes four types of quality assessment of an ascending complexity level: self-assessment, supported self-assessment, peer review and rolling review, as well as five basic elements of quality assurance: documentation, standardization of processes and statistical methods, measurement of quality characteristics, strategic planning and control, improvement measures. EU governments generally do not intervene in the procedures for assessing the quality of statistics, since the public can be interpreted as a violation of professional independence or interference in order to correct the data.

Another important document in the field of quality of European statistics was adopted in 2009, it defines eight quality criteria (relevance, accuracy, timeliness, punctuality, accessibility and clarity, comparability, consistency).

Based on the conceptual international quality standards, the country's statistical authorities develop and apply their own concepts, standards and tools to increase the confidence of national users and the international community in the production of statistical information and to withstand competition in the face of a large number of diverse digital and analytical information available on the Internet.

In addition to the documents that define the conceptual framework for achieving high quality of official statistics, a number of practical documents have been developed, containing recommendations on the conduct of systematic and comprehensive quality assessments, the preparation of quality reports and quality tools.

Among them, one of the most known and often used in statistical practice is the International Data Exchange Fund (IMF) Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). The DQAF was developed by IMF’s statistics department and complements the quality aspect defined in the IMF's General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS).

The DQAF makes it possible to compare the methods used by countries to create indicators with best practices based on five dimensions of data quality: integrity, methodological validity, accuracy and reliability, suitability to use and availability. For each measurement, three to five elements of best practice are identified and several indicators for each element for estimating data sets using key questions and key indicators. The first three levels are common for all data sets, and the lower levels are specific for each type of data set.

It limits the use of the DQAF that it covers only part of the macroeconomic and financial statistics and establishes quality measures for the set of indicators disseminated within the GDDS.

State statistics committee  also closely cooperates with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in its quality improvement activities, and the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) (key international statistical organizations) and is guided by generally recognized key aspects of data quality and other recommended standards in the field of statistical quality.

In particular, the main principles of official statistics recommended by the UN correspond to the basic principles of state statistics defined in Article 4 of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On State Statistics", namely: reliability, objectivity, impartiality, relevance, comparability and stability, accessibility, transparency and openness.

Specialists of the State Statistics Committee, implementing measures to further integrate the national statistical system into the international statistical system, constantly study innovations in the field of statistical methods and the best practice of statistical observations by tracking publications in special publications and the media, participating in seminars and trainings of international and foreign statistical organizations, as well as through regular contacts with international experts on harmonization of the methodology.

So, for example, in April 2018 the specialists of the State Statistics Committee and other agencies responsible for the preparation of the National Data Sheet of Uzbekistan under the IMF e-GDDS standard (extended General Data Dissemination System) met with the IMF's technical assistance consultants, where one from the issues under consideration was the correspondence of the description of disseminated economic and financial indicators to the DQAF standards, as well as plans to improve data.

In addition, in October-November 2018, the mission of the UNECE Statistical Division is expected to arrive with a view to conducting a joint review of the implementation of international statistical standards and best practices in Uzbekistan.

In the process of joint review, UNECE experts will conduct an expert analysis of the organizational level of the development of national statistics, its compliance with the UN Basic Principles of Official Statistics, consider the terms, concepts and key indicators used, as well as the level of implementation of recommended advanced statistical methods and standards in the economic, social and demographic statistics. On this basis, a review will be prepared, including recommendations for further improving the methodology for conducting statistical observations and improving the efficiency of the implementation of various stages of state statistical work.

Currently, the work of the State Statistics Committee on quality management is concentrated in the following main areas:

Improvement of the methodological basis for obtaining qualitative statistics;

Systemic quality control of the processes of collecting and processing data;

Interaction with respondents and users of statistical information in determining key areas for improving statistics.

It should be noted that at present, when the electronic exchange of statistical data has become a common practice of countries and international statistical organizations, the requirements for consistency of data among the participants in this process are constantly growing, and accordingly it is necessary to constantly introduce new and better statistical methods and processes.

Systemic innovations in statistical methodology are one of the most important components of quality and international comparability of statistical indicators, and also allow in the conditions of growing demand for statistical data to prepare and distribute them with great flexibility and minimal costs. For the last 10 years more than 100 methodological documents adapted to national conditions have been introduced in the system of state statistics, in particular, 41 new methodological documents have been developed only for the last 3 years and improvements have been made to 13 operating procedures.

These methodical documents are posted on the official website of the State Statistics  Committee in a special electronic library. To get acquainted and use them, not only employees of the statistical system can, but anyone who wants to better understand or independently evaluate the methodology used to calculate specific indicators or compare it with international and foreign counterparts.

It should be noted that in modern statistical practice, countries are encouraged not only to use a harmonized methodology, but also to form the so-called "metadata", i.e. an integrated national and international documenting system. Statistical metadata is defined as "the data necessary to correctly obtain and use the statistical data that they describe." Metadata includes a systematic description of the concepts needed to find and present data (for example, the Tashkent region; 2014), as well as background information (definition of the indicator, its practical application, a brief description of the methods of observations and calculations, the distribution calendar). Metadata also describes the quality of the data (for example, explanations are included about possible sources of errors, errors and confidence intervals when observing sampling methods).

Thus, the creation of a coherent and well-functioning metadata system and unification of statistical terminology is at the present stage an innovative means of improving communication and mutual understanding between statisticians, methodologists, respondents and users of statistical information systems.

An important advantage of the metadata system is the availability of a structured catalog, which allows users to quickly find online in the "online" mode the required statistics on the Internet on demand or through a search system and to transfer to a new qualitative level the provision of interactive statistical services. In an ideal situation, the metadata in the central repository is automatically linked to the online databases on the statistical organization's website. This allows users, when using a database of statistical indicators, to immediately gain access to their unified description in a concise and concise manner. At the same time, even an unprepared user can easily understand the methodology of forming the indicator and independently make a conclusion whether its quality is satisfied with the information received. The experience of State statistics comittee in the field of metadata formation is still small. In the first stage, since 2018, the metadata on economic and financial indicators disseminated within the framework of the work on joining the IMF e-GDDS has been published and regularly updated on the official website of the State Statistical Committee. Maximally expand and post on the official website, metadata for all key indicators is planned until 2021. The introduction and mandatory use of an innovative single metadata system will avoid subsequent unjustified costs when integrating various information resources, carrying out statistical calculations using data obtained at different times from different sources, as well as in the construction of dynamic series. In the long term, developed countries will use the same search dictionary for websites of government, international structures and the private sector. At the same time, one request can be sent simultaneously by the user to different addresses and will provide him with the opportunity to compile and summarize information received from various sources (national, foreign, international), and also formulate his own analytical materials on-line in this way.

To create such a dictionary, the Statistical Commission of the United Nations recognized in February 2008 the standard SDMX (Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange) as the preferred standard. This standard was developed jointly by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the European Central Bank, the Statistical Office of the European Community (Eurostat), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Statistics Department and the World Bank. It defines formats for the exchange of aggregated statistics, as well as the metadata required to understand how these data are structured. Since the inception of the UN initiative, the SDMX standard has been recognized and is used by an increasing number of statistical organizations. So, at present it is used by the IMF, Eurostat, national statistical services of the EU countries and individual CIS countries. Since 2018, Goskomstat also started preparatory work on the implementation of the international standard for the exchange of statistical data and metadata SDMX with its subsequent use on the official website. This will increase the country rating of Uzbekistan's statistical capacity and become one of the leading statistical organizations in terms of using modern information technologies. Another necessary condition for the successful implementation of quality management measures is the organization of an effective system of internal control. Currently, this function is implemented by a special unit in the structure of the State Statistics Committee, which continuously monitors compliance with the deadlines for performing work at the national and territorial level and prepares relevant information for consideration by the heads of state statistics bodies and at meetings of collegiate bodies. In addition, documents coordinating the interaction of all statistical departments in ensuring the quality of statistical observations, such as: "The procedure for conducting by the state statistical agencies of the primary statistical analysis of the reporting data of organizations, identifying and eliminating errors and inconsistencies in the data", "Regulations for the organization of work to ensure the completeness of coverage of reporting entities in the process of collecting state statistical reporting "," Regulations for coordination and monitoring of the progress of  work on the preparation and conduct of a complex of selective statistical surveys of the economic activities of economic entities. "

Since 2018, State statistics committee  has implemented an assessment of the effectiveness of statistical activities of territorial statistical offices, based on 6 criteria: accuracy and reliability of data - completeness of collection, objectivity and reliability of primary data, minimization of the permissible sampling error; timeliness and punctuality - release of statistical data in strict accordance with the deadlines set in the State Statistical Work Program, international recommendations and user needs; interconnectedness and comparability - the unity of methodology, the comparability of statistical indicators during the required period of time, in the context of the territories, on a  international scale; accessibility and clarity - availability in the Internet and mass media of sets of statistical indicators in the areas of statistics, relevant analytical and visual materials, descriptions of data, methods and methodologies; moderation of the burden on reporting entities - use of information technologies for data collection, time minimization of subjects to fill in forms of state statistical observations, interagency exchange with other government bodies; the thoroughness of possession of statistical tools - the continuous improvement of the level of professional training of employees, the use of modern information and communication technologies, adherence to the principles of professional ethics. For each of these criteria, relevant indicators have been developed, on the basis of which, based on the results of each quarter, an integrated assessment of the effectiveness of the statistical units on the totality of the state statistical work performed is carried out. The results of the evaluation are taken into account when reviewing activities and encouraging managers and specialists. 

In continuation of the innovations that have been initiated, which ensure the growth of the qualitative level of statistical work and statistical activities, in the medium term to 2021 in the statistical processes of the basic package of the quality management system DatQAМ. The activities of the basic package, along with the improvements already implemented, will include the study and recording of feedback from users of statistics, self-assessment or external evaluation (ie performed by international, overseas or national experts), then disseminating it through the official site, about quality. It should be noted that it is impossible to produce high-quality statistics without active interaction with respondents providing reporting data. Therefore, another new area of ​​statistical activity is the establishment of feedback with respondents using modern Internet technologies. State statistics committee introduced the practice of testing new forms of statistical observations, by placing their projects on the official website of the State Statistics Committee and the Government portal. All the comments received are carefully studied and are taken into account when preparing the final layouts of forms and their subsequent approval. It should be noted that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan provides significant assistance to statisticians in these activities, which organizes the study and discussion of statistical forms among its members and sends general comments and proposals to the State Statistics Committee.

Also, since 2015, the practice of exchanging electronic messages when receiving reports and posting explanations on frequently arising issues directly on the electronic form of the form, and since 2018 the system "Online consultant" has been introduced into the process of collecting statistical reports on the basis of free software Mibew Messenger 2.2.0. To ensure the active participation of respondents in statistical observations and providing them with qualitative data, it is important to control the reporting load and continuous measures to reduce it. To this end, State statistics comittee regularly polls respondents about the time spent filling out forms of state statistical observations, as well as their convenience and clarity in filling out.

Such surveys are part of the basic package of the quality management system recommended by international statistical organizations. The next survey of respondents was conducted by Goskomstat in April 2018 in all the territories of the republic. The survey covered 5.5 thousand reporting organizations, including small business entities, farms and non-governmental non-profit organizations.

The obtained results are studied by State statistics committee methodologists and will be used to improve the forms of state statistical observations for 2019. Also, the results obtained will allow more efficient organization of the work of territorial statistical offices in explaining the specifics of filling out forms for accountants and managers of newly created organizations, as well as providing practical assistance to organizations that spend considerable time filling out forms. Of course, there are still many unresolved problems in the organization of statistical activities and the level of public confidence in statistical data is still inadequate. Therefore, all statistics specialists see their main task in the constant movement and systemic changes aimed at implementing the Program of Measures, adopted by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017 on cardinal increase of efficiency of the organization of statistical activity, improvement of the quality of statistical information and the system of its dissemination for the years 2017-2021.

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