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Principle 1 - Relevance, impartiality and equal access

Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honor citizens' entitlement to public information.

There are many elements to this principle. First, official statistics are one of the cornerstones of good government and public confidence in good government. Official statistics, by definition, are produced by government agencies and can inform debate and decision making both by governments and by the wider community. Objective, reliable and accessible official statistics give people and organizations, nationally and internationally, confidence in the integrity of government and public decision making on the economic, social and environmental situation within a country. They should therefore meet the needs of a range of users and be made widely available.

Second, to meet the test of practical utility, statistics must be relevant, of a quality suitable for the use made, and in a form that facilitates easy and correct use. The key to achieving this is maintaining an understanding of what statistical information users want and how they want it. Statistical agencies follow many practices to achieve this understanding, the most common ones being

advisory bodies , and specific activities of

user consultation such as consultation programs for the development of new statistics and user satisfaction surveys. In addition, statistical agencies need good

organizational planning and operation to be responsive to the changing needs of users established through such consultations.

Third, impartiality in compilation and release is achieved through the process being free from political interference in both the methodology adopted and what is released and when. In many countries this independence is enshrined in

statistics legislation . Statisticians need to act professionally by the sound

application of statistical methods (See Principle 2), by openness about

concepts, sources and methods used (see Principle 3), and by avoiding partisan commentary.

Fourth, to make information widely known and available on an impartial basis requires

dissemination and marketing activities (including

dealing with the media ) to provide information in the form required by users, and

release policies which provide equal opportunity of access. Sound statistical principles needs to be followed with the

presentation of statistics so that they are easy to understand and impartially reported.