I. On Cooperation and Coordination Among Statistical Agencies/Units in the Philippine Statistical System (PPS)
The PSS is a decentralized system consisting of the statistical organizations at all administrative levels, the personnel therein, and the national statistical program. These organizations include among others the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the highest policy-making and coordinating body on all statistical matters; the Statistical Research and Training Center (SRTC); the National Statistics Office (NSO), the single general-purpose statistical agency; and all the departments, bureaus, offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the national and local government and government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and their subsidiaries which are engaged in statistical activities either as their primary functions or part of their administrative or regulatory functions.
The PSS is decentralized in nature but is bound by common visions, policies and programs. The NSCB, as mandated, coordinates the process of data generation and dissemination through various mechanisms aimed at promoting a more efficient statistical system and ensuring reliable, relevant and accessible information to policy formulation and program implementation.
Some of these mechanisms are the following: (full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/about_coord.htm
a) Philippine Statistical Development Program (PSDP) - the blueprint of the integrated vision and priority programs and projects to be undertaken in the PSS for a period of five years.
b) System of Designated Statistics - The System administered by the NSCB involves the identification, evaluation, coordination and monitoring of the most critical statistics for decision-making of the government and private sectors. It is a framework for setting priorities and standards in data production.
c) Survey Review and Clearance System - Through this system, the NSCB minimizes/discourages duplication and promotes optimal use of resources for surveys.
d) Budget review and prioritization - budget proposals of government agencies are evaluated and prioritized in accordance with the system of designated statistics.
e) Inter-agency coordination - inter-agency committees and technical working groups are created by the NSCB to enhance statistical activities, recommend policies and resolve policy and technical issues on sectoral statistics.
f) Development and maintenance of statistical frameworks and multi-sectoral indicator systems -- used as powerful tool for integration of statistics, e. g., the system of national accounts for economic analysis.
g) Joint PSS Programs - NSCB initiates the conceptualization and implementation of PSS-wide programs (e. g., National Statistics Month, Government Statistics Accessibility Program, Re-engineering the Government Statistical Services) with the participation of concerned agencies.
h) Forum on Best Practices on Information Dissemination -- to recognize the efforts of the information providers in making statistics more accessible and to advocate the sharing of experiences, expertise and technology on information dissemination.
II. On Making Statistics More Relevant and Accessible to Everyone
> One-Stop Products and Services
The decentralized structure of the PSS provides strong linkage between data production and utilization because the various agencies have their own statistical units to address their data needs. However, the data-using public which includes the business sector, students, other non-government institutions and the general public prefers a more efficient point of data access. This is the main rationale for the establishment of a one-stop statistical information center in the country in 1993. Known as the National Statistical Information Center (NSIC), the project was developed through the financial and technical assistance of the Swedish government. The NSIC is administered by the NSCB. To date, there are now nine (9) NSICs in the regions. The NSIC main office is housed at the NSCB.
The NSIC was conceptualized with the vision of enhancing people empowerment, maximizing the return on investments in the generation of information, and minimizing the delay and wastage in data research. It provides frontline, library, bookshops and technical services to data users.
After establishing the NSIC, a number of one-stop products and services have been developed by the NSCB. These include the Statistical Reference Database (STATREF) - a computerized inventory of the statistics available in the government, Catalogue of PSS Publications, Directory of Statistical Services, the hyperlinking of websites, and just recently, "The Philippine Statistics in CD-ROM" and ActiveStats, a feature in the NSCB website containing interactive databases.
The NSCB website (http://firstname.lastname@example.org) also showcases significant products and services of the NSCB and the PSS. The site is also basically designed to inform users on the coordinated efforts of the members of the PSS. Included in the site, among others, are the following pages:
a) StatWatch -- presents data on important indicators. To date, there are 28 indicators in this page.
b) StatTables -- provide a snapshot of social and economic indicators presented in tabular format to facilitate comprehension.
c) StatMeter -- presents the historical trends of key economic and social indicators.
d) FactSheets -- showcases relevant data/indicators through brief analyses and graphical representations which are not commonly known or readily available to users.
e) Active Stats -- showcases the interactive modules contained in the NSCB website. This includes the statistical databases (I-stats, Countryside in Figures) and codes and classifications (Philippine Standard Geographic Codes or PSGC, area codes, zip codes).
f) Philippine Statistical System -- contains the structure, linkages, sources of data, and others.
g) Data Release Calendar -- presents the dates of release of data produced by the agencies of the PSS.
h) Technical Notes -- designed to aid users in understanding the concepts and methodologies behind the construction of some social and economic indicators contained in the site.
i) Glossary of Terms -- presents standard definition of terms and concepts used in the PSS; sourced from various data-producing agencies.
j) Announcements - The NSCB regularly make announcements on releases of publication, new articles on concepts and methodologies, and other statistical development activities in the country
k) Events -- informs the users on various seminars, conferences, users’/producers’ fora, training programs and other statistical events that the NSCB conducts
l) Press Releases -- The NSCB posts press releases on various statistical matters from time to time.
> Users' Forum
The NSCB also encourages the active participation of data users from various sectors in different fora to enhance awareness and appreciation of available statistics (e. g., forum on National Accounts, National Health Accounts, Seminar on Statistics for Business Planning).
> Web-Based Dissemination and Monitoring System for Designated Statistics
A new activity under the GSAP/GSSID is the Web-Based Dissemination and Monitoring System for Designated Statistics. This aims to provide easy access to the designated statistics, their Metadata and Advance Release Calendar (ARC) by using the Internet technology. It is an activity in support of the GSAP and is basically an implementation of the GSSID specifically that advocating for a web-based dissemination. It also provides for a self- monitoring form that will allow the agency to record and track its progress in meeting the system of designated statistics particularly on timeliness, accessibility and transparency.
The ultimate output is a system whereby all agencies with designated statistics will be disseminating the statistics, the ARC, the Metadata, and the Status of Release of Designated Statistics on their respective sites.
III. On Maintaining the Objectivity and Integrity of Official Statistics
> Standard of Designated Statistics
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/desig.htm and http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/about_prod.htm)
As discussed above, this is a PSS mechanism being implemented by the NSCB which identifies the most critical and essential statistics required for social and economic planning/analysis based on approved criteria. Among the criteria considered in determining statistical activities/statistics to be designated are such that they a) produce statistics essential in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of major government policies and programs; b) generate sets of statistics providing information to resolve emerging policy issues of public interest; c) produce widely-recognized key socio-economic data series; d) address legislative requirements (e. g., of the Local Government Code); and e) produce basic data needed for the compilation of derived data systems such as the national accounts, input-output tables, production indices and balance of payments. Other factors considered in the process are cost-effectiveness, economy of using alternative sources of information, meeting of basic statistical standards and extent of response burden.
The designation of statistics includes the implementing agency and prescribed frequency of collection, geographic disaggregation and schedule of data dissemination.
> Statistical Survey Review and Clearance System (SSRCS)
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ssrcs/faqs.htm and http://www.nscb.gov.ph/ssrcs/recently.htm
As described under the PSS coordination mechanisms, the SSRCS is a system implemented by the NSCB to promote efficiency in statistical operations of the government and ensure quality survey results. The NSCB basically reviews the relevance, feasibility, appropriateness of the methodology and data gathering instruments.
> Standards and classification systems
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/products/csd.htm
Under this mechanism, the NSCB issues standards that are meant to (1) prescribe performance targets and measures, e.g., the General Standards on Statistical Information Dissemination (GSSID), and (2) ensure consistency among data producers such as standard concepts and data classification systems, e. g., Philippine Standard Geographic Codes (PSGC), Philippine Standard Commodity Classification (PSCC), Philippine Standard Industry Classification (PSIC), Philippine Standard Occupational Classification (PSOC), and Philippine Standard Classification of Education Statistics (PSCEd) and the Philippine Classification of Commodities by Broad Economic Categories (PCCBEC).
> Concept Paper on the Government Statistics Accessibility Program (GSAP) of the Philippines
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/gsap.htm
The Program's vision is to make statistical information and services (SIS) in the Philippines highly accessible to users nationwide and worldwide. The first program period covers 1997-2000. It was conceptualized by the NSCB.
Its five (5) major strategies include the strengthening of the capacity and capability of the PSS in terms of its human and physical resources, systems and processes; accelerating technological development in the government in the area of information management and dissemination; providing the foundation for the PSS to become entrepreneurial capable of generating and using its resources; formulation of common dissemination policies and standards among data producers; and producing a conducive environment for a shared marketing of SIS.
The Program also recognizes the following fundamental principles:
a) Information is used for decision-making and therefore, the timeliness and integrity of the information should be ensured.
b) Information is synonymous to knowledge and power and therefore must be widely and effectively disseminated.
c) The number of professional statisticians is not yet that adequate and hence must be mobilized to provide statistical services.
d) The government is primarily responsible in making SIS accessible to the citizens as provided for in the Constitution. However, it must assess what it must do and can do in the light of its resources and the demands of the citizens.
e) Better results can be achieved in information dissemination if there is harmony and synergy in efforts among the producers and distributors in the government and private sectors.
f) Every potential user, regardless of status, capacity and location, should be accorded the opportunity to access available SIS.
g) Basic information produced by the government is a public good but the manner of how it should be delivered to suit individual preference shall be subject to a pricing policy.
As part of the advocacy efforts for the GSAP, one major activity conducted was the organization of a G-SAP inter-agency consortium in 1998. The Consortium, consisting of selected government agencies providing SIS and a representative from the private sector, serves as a venue for sharing of views, information, expertise, technology and resources for data management and dissemination.
> The General Standards on Statistical Information Dissemination (GSSID)
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/desig_form/NSCB_GSSID.pdf and http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pss/desig_form/gssidmf1.xls
In 1999, the first of the Series of Standards for Statistical Information Dissemination (SSSID), the General Standards on Statistical Information Dissemination (GSSID), was approved by the NSCB. The GSSID consists of two major set of standards. The first set aims to promote reliability, transparency and integrity of the PSS while the second set aims to improve timeliness and accessibility of government information. Among the standards are the provision of all appropriate metadata for any data collection activity, the dissemination in advance of a calendar of release of data, the conduct of user-awareness programs, and the dissemination of statistics widely using both print and electronic media, e. g., the Internet, CD-ROM.
Advocacy efforts on the GSSID included the holding of annual fora for all government data producers in 1999.
> Pricing Policy and Guidelines of the PSS
(full text available at http://www.nscb.gov.ph/aboutus/resolutions/1999/11.htm)
The overall objective of the pricing policy is to translate into monetary terms the cost and value of statistical products and services. The PSS aims to provide the general public with basic statistical information on the socio-economic situation of the country. However, the extent of information and services that can be provided for free depends on available resources. In general, the policy stipulates that a) pricing policies at any given time must contribute to the goal of providing opportunity to various types of customers to acquire and avail of SIS; b) policies and pricing scheme must promote good relationship with partners and customers; c) cost savings due to improved productivity of the office shall be passed on to the customers in terms of reduced prices; and d) the prices, including the objectives and policies shall be assessed and updated regularly to be consistent with the thrusts of the PSS and to be responsive to market situation and advances in technology.
The guidelines, on the other hand, provide for more specific policies in addition to the general pricing policy of the PSS. Among the important provisions are on a) information that should be published, b) forms and outlets of publication, c) services that should be free and for a fee, d) what to include in the price, e) policy for government agencies, f) policy for international and other foreign institutions, and g) special rates to students and government and private entities that are considered as channels of information.
> Guidelines on the Dissemination of the Advance Release Calendar (ARC)
These guidelines aim to lay down specific standards and policies for the dissemination of the ARC for statistical activities of the PSS such as the prescription of forms to be used for the ARC to indicate the data categories, contact persons, forms and modes of dissemination, and release dates and reference period.
The ARC is a mechanism aimed at promoting transparency, timeliness and accessibility of government information by providing advance information to the public as to what and when official statistics will become available.
> Data Archiving
A separate NSCB Resolution was issued in October 1997 providing for the adoption of data archiving measures by the member agencies of the PSS to ensure the preservation, systematic storage and retrieval of the statistical data including records on their methodology, concepts and other metadata. The resolution acknowledged the significant amount of resources spent by the government on research, collection and processing of data for decision-making and the importance of tracking the progress of the country and the PSS through past records.
A Task Force (TF) on Electronic Data Archiving for the PSS was created on April 2, 2001 to formulate data archiving policy, programs and standards with the ultimate objective of preserving the wealth of statistical information for the benefit of current and future generations. On short-term basis, the objective is to initiate and coordinate the development of electronic statistical data archives in the PSS. Pilot agencies included in this undertaking are the NSCB, the NSO, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics(BLES), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the Department of Education (DepEd).
The initial policy prepared by the TF includes provisions on scope and coverage of the archiving activity, prioritization on what to archive, guidelines on how to archive, institutional networking or linkage, and agency responsibilities.