Press Release: IMF Co-Hosts Meeting on Management of Statistical Information Systems to Advance Collaboration Among Statistical Offices and International Agencies

May 23, 2012

Press Release No. 12/188
May 23, 2012

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) co-hosted an international meeting on the Management of Statistical Information Systems (MSIS) to promote the adoption of standards and software collaboration among statistical organizations. MSIS is an annual conference organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat, which brings together a large number of countries to discuss issues of common interest and concerns.

Key topics of this year’s meeting included strategies for managing the growing needs of economic and socio-demographic data to support evidence-based decision making in the wake of the financial crisis. Many organizations are facing shrinking budgets and increased demands and user expectations; and are increasingly turning to standards for processes and systems in order to leverage the tools developed by national and international organizations that do very similar work.

In welcoming the participants, Ms. Adelheid Burgi-Schmelz, Director of the IMF Statistics Department, stressed the aims of the MSIS group: “to provide a forum for statistical information systems managers to share good practices, and to facilitate the implementation of relevant standards across participating countries”. Ms. Katherine K. Wallman, Chief Statistician at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, delivered a keynote address and spoke about the recently created High-Level Group for Strategic Developments in Business Architecture in Statistics (HLG-BAS) which brings together chief statisticians from national and international statistical organizations to shape the future of official statistics. Mr. Jonathan Palmer, the IMF’s Chief Information Officer, opened the second day session by noting that the environment has never been better for innovation and collaboration.  “We have excellent communication technology and collaboration tools, which we need to harness for official statistics” he noted.

A common theme throughout the conference was the use of key international standards such as SDMX (Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange), the generic statistical business process model (GSBPM), and the generic statistical information model (GSIM). These standards provide the cornerstones for streamlining and modernizing official statistics. In addition, Open Data, the idea that certain data should be freely available to the general public without restriction, was the topic of a panel discussion. The debates focused on how statistical organizations should respond to the various challenges posed by this major upheaval in the data industry.

The conclusions of the conference will inform the initiative’s future development. The papers presented at the conference are already on the MSIS conference web page. A new feature at this year’s meeting was the use of Twitter, where the general public could follow along by searching on #MSIS2012. A summary of the proceedings will be posted on the MSIS wiki in the coming weeks.


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