B.  Integrated business survey programme: an overview 

13.7.        The idea of developing and achieving an integrated system of business and international statistics has a long history among national and international governing bodies of economic statistics. The motivating source of that work has been the policy and statistical benefits that can be obtained from an integrated statistical system for national and international coordinated economic policy planning in an interconnected global economy. 

13.8.        The benefits to data users, producers and providers, include, but are not limited to, the following: 

(a) A common standardized information management framework that governs the statistical production process over time and across countries;

(b) Statistical production processes that help reduce response burden and costs, while improving transparency for data users and providers;

(c) Collaboration in the development and application of common methods and information technology tools for data processing, documentation and exchange through the adoption of a standardized information management model; [1]

(d) Addressing the demand for evidence-based, mutually reinforcing stories and descriptions of the sequence of events that are obtained from coherent statistics, covering business statistics, short term statistics, national accounts and international statistics.  

13.9.        The starting point for integrated economic statistics is the use of the internationally accepted standard for macroeconomic accounts, the System of National Accounts (SNA) (preferably its latest edition, the 2008 SNA) as the conceptual organizing framework. As a result of years of work in harmonizing macroeconomic statistical standards, the use of the 2008 SNA as the conceptual framework provides consistency and coherence with other internationally accepted standards and international recommendations, such as the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, 6th ed. (BPM6) and other specialized manuals, such as MSITS 2010.[2] 

13.10.        Standardized surveys across statistical programmes  The most effective means of ensuring integration and consistency is through a holistic redesign of data collections, both surveys and administrative data, that minimizes inconsistencies through the use of common standards and methods, integrated survey design and a central business register. It is good practice for the collection of statistical information to move from a stovepipe approach towards an integrated approach. In a stovepipe model, in which each programme collects information on its own and for its own purposes, an entity surveyed may be asked the same questions with different definitions. A stovepipe approach, therefore, not only increases the survey burden, but is also likely to produce statistics that are difficult to align. In contrast, integrated questionnaire design and integrated surveys help to resolve such data-collection issues.[3] The integrated approach is particularly relevant for statistics on the international supply of services, which are compiled with information from various statistical domains. 

13.11.        Under an integrated approach, all economic data collections gradually change their objectives and statistical designs and enhance the coherence of statistical outputs. When designing a collection for various sets of economic statistics, compilers need to think beyond their current work to how those sets will integrate with other statistical outputs. Likewise, questionnaires must apply concepts and definitions that are consistent with those used in other surveys and administrative collections.[4] 

13.12.        A national statistics act may provide a national statistical office with the authority to approve the design of all statistical surveys operated by government agencies.[5] One practical approach to achieving integrated surveys is a reorganization of the statistical agency towards a more functional structure. A separate division with responsibility for developing and maintaining classifications and standards can lead a programme to apply consistent definitions and classifications to all statistical outputs. Creating a division that has responsibility for developing the SBR to be used for the production of all economic statistics is an effective way to ensure that units are selected and classified consistently across all statistical outputs. Establishing an independent statistical methods division can help to ensure the coherent design of all surveys.[6] 

13.13.        It is important to note here that the subject matter expert or compiler of statistics on the international supply of services may not always have full control over the design of such integrated surveys, if the design is managed by an independent division. It is important for compilers to recognize that success in achieving integration across many programmes requires extensive collaboration and communication across the organization, support from senior leaders in the organization and adaptability and flexibility.[7]



[1] See “Learning centre on explaining the integrated business statistics programme for statistical information management”, concept note presented at the forty-fifth session of the Statistical Commission, New York, 4-7 March 2014. Available from   http://unstats.un.org/unsd/statcom/statcom_2014/seminars/LC_Integrated_Business/Concept%20Note%2012%20Feb%202014.pdf.

[2] See Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics, p. 17. 

[3] Ibid., pp. 49-50.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., pp. 28-29.

[6] Ibid., p. 39.

[7] A country example of the “Integrated Business Statistics Program at Statistics Canada”, is available from  http://unstats.un.org/unsd/nationalaccount/workshops/2014/St_Lucia/IBSP.ppt. Samples of integrated surveys from Statistics Canada are available on the website of the Statistics Division.