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5 March 2013
VOORBURG GROUP ON SERVICE STATISTICS
The Voorburg Group on Service Statistics was created in 1986, in response to a request from the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), for assistance in developing service statistics. The first meeting, hosted by the Netherlands Statistical Office (CBS) was held in January of 1987 in Voorburg, from which the group derives its name.
The purpose of the Group is to address issues related to the production of services statistics, including service product outputs and inputs, the estimation of the real product of service activities, price indices of service products and industries, and their implications for product and industry classification (Central Product Classification ( CPC) and International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC)).
In 2005, the VG received a renewed mandate from the UNSC concerning its objective, focus, and scope. The objective of the VG is to establish an internationally comparable methodology for measuring the constant dollar outputs of the service industries. The focus of the VG is to develop concepts, methods, and best practices in the area of services. The scope of the VG is centered on producer price indices (PPIs) for services, turnover by products, and classifications.
The Voorburg Group has contributed over the years to building up and sharing a considerable and growing body of knowledge on Service Sector Statistics. It has promoted international cooperation in the development of standards and assisted in resolving statistical and measurement challenges in the Service Sector.
Participants at the last five meetings
Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
United Nations Statistics Division (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005)
The Group meets annually for a week. Previous meetings were held as follows:
1987 Voorburg, the Netherlands
The next annual meeting of the Voorburg Group will be held from October 7 th to the 11 th, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Further details will be posted to this site as they are developed.
In the early years, the Group contributed to the development of the services areas of the two United Nations Classifications: International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC), Rev 3 and the Central Product Classification ( CPC). Subsequently, the topics considered were expanded to address services statistics more generally, including topics such as prices of service products; international trade in services; and employment, skills, and occupations in the service sector. Since 2005, in accordance with its Vision document and its renewed mandate, the Group has re-focused its work on the development of new concepts, methods and best practices in three areas: 1) classification issues, 2) output measures and 3) producer price indices.
Over the years, the Voorburg Group has developed a large body of knowledge and best practices on classification, turnover/output, and producer prices for a large number of service sectors. Until 2006, the subjects of the papers that are found on the Website were specific to one of the three areas of responsibilities of the Group. In 2006, the Voorburg Group adopted a more structured approach in terms of its work plan and proceedings and introduced a process by which new developments would first be discussed through a series of mini-presentations on specific industries covering the issues of producer prices, turnover/output, and classification. These mini-presentations are the forum where experiences and best practices from different countries are shared and discussed. The results of these discussions are then integrated into a sector paper that brings together the best practices and recommendations for the development of producer prices, turnover/output, and classification for a particular service sector.
Given the large amount of work produced before the introduction of this new approach, the Group decided in 2008 to add an activity called “revisited sector papers”, which builds upon the previously issued mini-presentations on prices (presented prior to 2006), and complete them with issues related to turnover/output and classification to the level of a “sector paper”.
Further, in 2011, it was decided that in future meetings the Group would begin revisiting selected industries in areas where the existing classifications may be getting out of date and are no longer reflecting the business and marketing structures that exist in the member countries’ economies. To that end, an activity called “updated sector papers” was assigned, with the first papers in this new series presented at the 2012 meeting.
Producer price indices for services
The decision was taken at the meeting held in Madrid 2000 to develop a model for presenting international practices in different services activities concerning the measurement of PPI. Principal papers have been completed and/or updated for the areas of accounting services (2001), telecommunication services (2001, 2012), legal services (2001, 2010), real estate (2001), advertising services (2002, 2004, 2010), road freight transport (2002,2006,2007), engineering services (2002), prepackaged software (2003), air passenger and freight transportation (2004, 2010), Water Transport (2010), Rail Passenger and Freight Transport Services (2010), Legal activity, auditing and tax consulting services (2004), Courier Services (2005, 2010), Labour recruitment (2005), Business and Management Consultancy (2006), Architectural Services (2006), Management Consultancy (2007), Computer Services (2007), Software Consultancy Services (2007), Wired, Wireless, Satellite and other Telecommunication Services (2008), Wholesale and General and Specialized Trade (2008), Real Estate Services (2008), Accounting, Bookkeeping and Auditing Activities and Consultancy (2008), Advertising and Market Research and Public Opinion Polling (2008), Information and Communication (2009), Banking, Finance and Insurance (2009, 2010) Rental and Leasing (2010), Transportation and Storage (2009), Tourism and Travel Services (2010), Technical Testing (2012), Maintenance and Repair of Automobiles (2012), Non-Life Insurance (2012), Waste Management/Waste Treatment (2012), Distributive Trades (2011, 2012).
Output / Turnover measurement
The papers in the area of output/turnover have ranged from Information and Communication (2001), General (2002), Computer Services and Related Activities (2003), Telecommunication Services (2004, 2012), Business Management and Consulting Services (2005), Transportation and Storage (2006), Computer Services and Related Activities (2007), Wholesale Trade (2008), Banking, Finance and Insurance (2009), Accommodation and Food Services (2010), Cleaning and Facilities Services (2010), Distributive Trades (2010, 2011), Wholesale Trades (2010), to Research and Development (2010), Technical Testing (2012), Maintenance and Repair of Automobiles (2012), Non-Life Insurance (2011), Waste Management/Waste Treatment (2012).
Principal papers in the area of classifications have included Information and Communication (2001), Miscellaneous Business Services (2002), Environmental, Cleaning and Landscaping Services (2003), Tourism and Travel Services (2004), General (2005), Transportation and Storage (2009).
Types of Papers available on the website
On the website the readers shall find three types of paper: mini-presentation papers, sector papers, and revisited papers.
The mini-presentation papers for prices, turnover and classification present specific country’s experience or practice on a given industry or part of an industry and are used to facilitate the discussion and exchange of knowledge and expertise.
The sector papers and revisited papers are the codification of the best practices in the development of prices, turnover and classification for a given industry. Both the revisited papers and sector papers are considered as the final outcome of the Voorburg Group’s development work for a particular sector.
In order to avoid repetition in the preparation of sector papers, the Voorburg Group has also developed the following general documentations which complement the sector papers:
The thesaurus for prices methodology, which includes common terminologies for prices, so that all participating countries and international organizations can speak the same language in terms of pricing methodologies. The final version adopted at the 2007 meeting included concrete examples accompanying each of the seven pricing methods and improved definitions of each of the seven pricing methods.
The SPPI general methodology paper which includes theoretical and practical issues and key points of a cross-cutting nature for the Service Sector as a whole. These key points of a general nature are provided to enable the Group to avoid rehashing the same points when discussing specific industries.
The national accounts general methodology paper which presents key issues to be addressed by the Voorburg Group to better ascertain and document the specific service sector source data used by the national accounts to improve measures of real Gross Domestic Product ( GDP).
Glossary presents in a concise and alphabetical order the terms used in the Voorburg Group. The reader is able to read the glossary independently as an autonomous methodological source. It also achieves its basic purpose in establishing a common language between statisticians and business operators.
Readers who are new to the work of the Voorburg Group are encouraged to refer to these documents as they complement the sector paper on a particular service industry.
Reports to the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC)
How to search the website
All the papers from the previous meetings of the Voorburg Group, going back to 1987, can be accessed through our website at : www.voorburggroup.org This website has been redesigned and expanded to provide additional information.
One can navigate the site by clicking on different links. One can search all the papers going back to the first meeting in 1987, by clicking year, title, author, program or industry. Additionally, one can have the latest information on the upcoming meeting or previous meetings (including agenda, participants and summary of sessions). As well, the link on General Documentation leads to the latest information on Glossary, Thesaurus, General Methodology Paper, National Account General Methodology Paper, and A primer on Mini-presentations, Sector Papers and Revisited Sector Papers. The year and number of papers link imparts information on the total number of papers written for an industry in a given year.
Latest news from the Voorburg Group
In 2009, building on the success of the meeting in 2008, the Group continued its focus on the following topics:
Mini-presentations - For 2009, the following three sectors were selected for mini-presentations:
1. Railway Transportation - PPI ( Finland, Germany and Canada) . Turnover/Output (Sweden, Canada, Germany and Japan).
2. Water Transportation - PPI ( Sweden, Germany and Australia) . Turnover/Output (Sweden, Spain and Poland).
3. Banking and Credit - PPI ( Canada, UK, US; and Japan (tentative). Turnover/Output (Canada, US, Mexico; and Norway).
Sector Papers : The 2009 meeting included the presentation and adoption of the Sector Paper on Wired, Wireless, Satellite, and Telecommunications Industries (ISIC 61); and Trade Margins for Wholesale Trade.
Revisited Sector papers – The papers were presented on Air Transportation (Austria), Rental and Leasing Services (Canada), Employment Services (Poland), Investigation and Security Services (Germany and Israel), Advertising and Market Research and Public Opinion Polling (UK and Czeck), and Real Estate, excluding imputed Rents (Finland and USA).
The 2009 meeting also included a special session on the Effect of Globalization on Services Producer Price Index Change in the IT Industry: Case Studies for Selected Multinational Companies.
The 2010 meeting continued the ambitious agenda as annunciated in the 2009 conference - with the presentation and adoption of the following sectors of the economy:
For 2010, the following Industry/Industry Groups were selected for mini-presentations:
1. Accommodations and Food Services - PPI ( Sweden , Ireland and Finland) . Turnover/Output ( Mexico, Japan and Ireland) .
2 . Distributive Trades - PPI ( Australia, Canada, and U.S.)
Turnover/Output ( Canada, Eurostat and Norway).
3. Cleaning and Facilities Services - PPI ( Israel, Austria, Germany and Norway).
Turnover/Output ( Norway, Netherlands and Germany).
4. Research and Development - PPI ( Germany).
Turnover/Output ( Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Hungary).
A special Mini-Presentation was also included on Reference Rates and Negative Prices for Banking and Credit.
At the 2010 meeting, the following 3 sectors were covered:
1. Rail Transportation – Passenger ( Germany)
2. Rail Transportation – Freight ( Germany / Canada)
3. Water Transportation ( Sweden)
Revisited Sector papers
The 2010 meeting also revisited the following industry groups:
1. Legal Services - ( Poland / U.K.)
2. Warehouse and Storage - ( Germany)
3. Courier Activities - ( France / Hungary)
The 2011 meeting included the following topics:
For 2011, the following Industry/Industry Groups were selected for mini-presentations:
Technical Testing – PPI (Norway, Netherlands, and Germany). Turnover/Output (Poland, Germany, and Norway)
Non-Life Insurance – PPI (United States, Czech Republic, and Canada). Turnover/Output (Netherlands and Canada)
Waste Management/Waste Treatment – PPI (France, United States, and Korea). Turnover/Output (Sweden and United States)
Maintenance and Repair of Motor Vehicles – PPI (United Kingdom and Canada). Turnover/Output (Mexico, Japan, and Canada)
Sector Papers: The 2011 meeting included the presentation and adoption of sector papers on Banking and Credit, Reference Rates, and Negative Prices; Accommodation and Food Services; and Cleaning and Facilities Services
The 2011 meeting also included special sessions on Distributive Trades, Research and Development, Manufacturing Services, and Adjusting for Quality Change.
The 2012 meeting included the following topics:
For 2012, the following Industry/Industry Groups were selected for mini-presentation:
Commercial and Industrial Machinery Repair and Maintenance – PPI (Japan, Israel, and United States); Turnover/Output (Sweden and France)
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Services – Turnover/Output only (Japan, Poland, Czech Republic
Consumer and Household Goods Repair and Maintenance – Turnover/Output only (Norway, Poland)
Water Treatment and Distribution Services – PPI (France, Hungary, and Sweden); Turnover/.Output (France, Poland, and Sweden)
Sector Papers: The 2012 meeting included the presentation and adoption of sector papers on Technical Testing, Maintenance and Repair of Automobiles, Non-Life Insurance (Issues Paper), and Waste Management/Waste Treatment (Issues). The 2011 meeting also included presentation and adoption of updated sector papers on Air Transport, Telecommunications, and Computer Programming.
The 2012 meeting also included special sessions on Distributive Trades (Final Report), Quality Adjustment Practices in Services Producer Price Indices, and Operational Efficiency Strategies.
Future Work Agenda (For 2013 and Onward)
Another ambitious agenda has been proposed for the 2013 meeting. The 2013 meeting will include the presentation and adoption of the Sector Papers on Commercial and Industrial Machinery Repair and Maintenance, Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Services (turnover only), Consumer and Household Good Repair and Maintenance (turnover only), and Water Treatment and Distribution Services.. Mini-Presentations on PPI and Turnover/Output will be included for Programming and Broadcasting Activities, Software Publishing Activities, Other Publishing Activities, Warehousing and Support Activities, and Postal Activities.
The 2013 meeting also will include special sessions on cross-cutting topics, including Quality Change and Quality Adjustment – The Consumer Utility Approach; Linking Services Turnover/Output to the National Macroeconomic Framework; ISIC and CPC – Voorburg Contributions in Preparing for the Next ISIC Revision; and Programmatic Innovations in Turnover, Producer Prices, and/or Classification for Services.
Enquiries relating to the Voorburg Group should be addressed to:
David M. FriedmanAssistant Commissioner for Industrial Prices & Price Indexes