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Creating value for stakeholders

Lead a coherent and trustworthy Official Statistics System

As the leader of the Official Statistics System our role is to lead a system that produces statistics and analysis to help New Zealanders better understand our society, economy and environment. In this system our partners are aware of their role in the Official Statistics System and are committed to achieving its outcomes.

We lead the Official Statistics System by working with others to: develop frameworks to ensure the quality, relevance and value for money of official statistics; support their implementation; and deliver fit-for-purpose statistics. We have made progress in all of these areas in 2007/08.

Develop frameworks to ensure quality, relevance and value for money

During the year we have continued to implement the Official Statistics System strategy agreed as part of the Top Down Review of Statistics New Zealand in 2003. Key achievements in 2007/08 include:

  • Facilitating the development of domain plans to ensure a cohesive and consistent understanding of user needs. During 2007/08 a domain plan was completed for the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sector.
  • Developing a respondent load strategy, which is applicable across the Official Statistics System.
  • Monitoring adherence to the Official Statistics System protocols. In 2008 we assessed adherence with the confidentiality, privacy and security protocol. The results of this assessment showed a high degree of adherence with the protocol and no Tier 1 statistics2 required immediate improvement of practices.

Support implementation of frameworks

A key part of our leadership role concerns supporting the implementation of the frameworks and standards across the system. This involves working with Official Statistics System producers, users and suppliers to build their capability to produce and use official statistics. We also provide a range of activities aimed at improving coordination and reducing duplication across the system. Key achievements in 2007/08 include:

  • Building capability across users and producers of official statistics by increasing the number of participants in the Certificate of Official Statistics, as detailed in the ‘Developing people and knowledge’ section of this report.
  • Continuing to facilitate access to official statistics through a central portal: the Statisphere website.
  • Continuing to coordinate a central repository of all surveys conducted by government agencies, through the Survey Notification System, with the total coverage of this system expanding from 627 to 672 statistical resources.
  • Continuing to track communications and engagement with stakeholders, such as central government agencies and academia, through our relationship management database.
  • Building relationships and supporting other producers of official statistics, which are documented formally through memoranda of understanding. During 2007/08 we signed memoranda of understanding with the Ministry of Social Development and the Accident Compensation Corporation.
  • Continuing to support the Advisory Committee on Official Statistics, and the Official Statistics System Officials Committee in their roles.

Develop fit-for-purpose statistics

A key part of our leadership is the way we produce our statistics. We seek to demonstrate best practice in relation to how we assess the need for statistics and how we produce, analyse and disseminate statistics. More detail about our achievements in this area is provided in the ‘Meet users’ needs for official statistics’ section of this report.

Case study

A cross-government project to improve access to important micro-economic data is providing evidence to support economic policy making. The Improved Business Understanding via Longitudinal Database Development (IBULDD) project was set up by Statistics New Zealand, with the Ministry of Economic Development; the Treasury; the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology; and the Department of Labour. IBULDD examined the feasibility of bringing together sample-based and administrative data, and concluded in December 2007 with delivery of the prototype Longitudinal Business Database.

Source: Stevens, P (2008). “Understanding Business”, in The Source: Official Statistics News, Statistics New Zealand.

 

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • our partners’ satisfaction with our leadership increases
  • the Official Statistics System protocols are applied to all Tier 1 statistics.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 2.

Table 2

Measuring progress towards leading OSS.

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Reduce respondent load

Statistics-producing agencies depend on the willing supply of information from respondents. Sustaining the trust of respondents is fundamental to producing high-quality and cost-effective official statistics. While official statistics are a public good, it is important to balance the demand for statistics with the load placed on the businesses, households and individuals providing data.

In February 2008, the Government Statistician officially signed off the Respondent Load Strategy, which commits us to reducing the burden placed on respondents in completing our surveys. This strategy describes a range of initiatives designed to minimise respondent load, over a three-year period. The initiatives will provide a best-practice model for adoption by our partners in the Official Statistics System.

Demonstrating the value of official statistics to respondents

The first area addressed in the Respondent Load Strategy is how Statistics New Zealand demonstrates the value of official statistics to respondents. Several successful events and initiatives helped to achieve this in 2007/08, including:

  • Jointly hosting nine Go Stats! seminars around New Zealand, in association with local Chambers of Commerce. These interactive seminars showed local businesses ways in which official statistics could help with the day-to-day running of their business, including evaluating business potential, targeting promotions, estimating market share, assessing new site locations, applying for finance, and analysing import/export trends. All presentations were followed by a practical online session where our staff assisted local business people to answer questions.
  • Being represented at the annual National Agricultural Fieldays held at Mystery Creek, Hamilton. This was an opportunity to speak directly to members of the public, farmers, business people and other government agencies.
  • Being represented at all three small business expos held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This was an opportunity to demonstrate the value of official statistics.

Reducing the load on businesses

During 2007/08, our Provider Relations Unit successfully reduced the survey burden for a number of large corporations. Key initiatives included identifying and removing instances of data duplication across surveys, and implementing electronic modes of response. During the year the number of large corporations account-managed was extended to 32. This group of over 1,000 companies has welcomed the opportunity to work more closely with Statistics New Zealand to further reduce survey load.

In 2007/08 the Retail Trade Survey trialled and implemented sample rotation for small and medium-sized businesses in certain industries. The aim of sample rotation is to share respondent load among businesses with similar characteristics.

Making it easier to respond

During 2007/08 a new collection management infrastructure was introduced. This contact system has been designed to standardise collection tasks and provide a cross-survey view of our engagement with individual respondents. It also provides useful reports on respondent contact and outcome information in real time. The system will be progressively rolled out for more business and social statistical collections in the future.

Identifying and managing areas of unreasonable individual load

Statistics New Zealand’s long-term strategy is to develop and implement statistical standards for the measurement of load on respondents. This will ensure there are consistent measures against which to benchmark trends and assess the load of individual surveys. In 2007/08 two initiatives contributed to this strategy:

  • We adopted a consistent actual time-taken measure across all surveys. For our business surveys, we are able to report on aggregate load and the breakdown by business size, so we can identify load ‘hotspots’. For surveys of households and individuals we can measure and project the load associated with the introduction of the Programme of Official Social Statistics.
  • We created an internal respondent advocacy position to advise the Government Statistician on respondent load and to ensure appropriate action is taken. The respondent advocate will develop a framework to manage respondent requests for relief and will promote awareness of respondent load issues.

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • respondents show a growing appreciation of the value of official statistics
  • there is a measurable reduction in the respondent load associated with small businesses
  • the cost of compliance associated with producing official statistics is reduced.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 3.

Table 3

Measuring progress towards reducing respondent load.

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Meet users’ needs for official statistics

Understanding and responding to user needs is vital to delivering fit-for-purpose statistics. We must balance emerging user needs with consistency of statistics over time, and production costs.

During 2007/08 we produced 148 releases of economic and business statistics, and 101 statistical releases on demographic, social, household and labour market statistics. We also produced new outputs and improved existing data series.

Delivering relevant statistics on the economy

As a nation, New Zealand needs timely, accurate and comprehensive factual information on a wide range of economic indicators. Core official economic statistics, conforming to international standards, are well established in New Zealand. Generally, over time, users of statistics have been clear and consistent about the areas where enhancements are desirable. In 2007/08 these needs were again tested and reviewed, and a blueprint outlining the priorities for development will be published in 2008/09.

The 2007/08 year has seen us not only continue to produce a substantial suite of economic statistics, but also improve both their range and their quality. New and notable releases included:

  • The Business Demography series, which now covers all industries, and includes an expanded coverage of New Zealand businesses. In 2007/08 we released the first set of business demography statistics based on a recently developed statistical resource, the Longitudinal Business Frame. To enable trends to be studied, the new series is available from February 2001 on a provisional basis.
  • The Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account: 2004, which, for the first time, provided comprehensive information about the economic contribution of non-profit institutions in New Zealand. This account features information on the income and expenditure of non-profit institutions and the economic value of volunteering for these institutions.
  • The five-yearly Agricultural Production Census involved 80,000 farmers and foresters and collected information on land use, livestock numbers, arable and horticulture crops, forestry production and farming practices including fertiliser application and irrigation. This is the second five-yearly census in the current agricultural statistics programme, which is undertaken as a joint collection with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
  • The official measures of productivity for New Zealand data series have been backdated to 1978, and the coverage of the measured economy has expanded to include two further industries (business services, and personal and other community services).

Delivering relevant statistics on society

Enabling New Zealanders to better understand their own society is a key objective of the Programme of Official Social Statistics. This programme is now in its fourth year. New and notable initiatives for 2007/08 include:

  • The General Social Survey is the flagship survey for the Programme of Official Social Statistics. This survey will help us understand social outcomes and change over time across a number of aspects of New Zealanders’ lives. Interviewing for the General Social Survey began in April 2008, and will take place over a 12-month period. The first data release is scheduled for October 2009.
  • In October 2007 we released the first statistics from the Survey of Dynamics and Motivations for Migration in New Zealand. This survey investigates why people move from one house to another, from one part of New Zealand to another, or to and from New Zealand, and what motivates people to stay where they are. This information will fill a gap in knowledge about the drivers and motivations of internal migration in New Zealand.
  • The Survey of Family, Income and Employment is a longitudinal survey that gathers information on major influences on income, including employment and educational experiences, household and family status and changes, demographic factors and health status. It aims to interview the same group of individuals over eight years (or ‘waves’), and is now in its sixth wave of collection. During 2007/08 we released results from the first four years of the survey.
  • The Longitudinal Immigration Survey of New Zealand is a partnership between Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Labour. It is designed to trace the pathways of migrants and produce a detailed, ongoing information base of migrants’ settlement experiences that can inform immigration selection policies and assist with developing settlement services. Wave 1 data was released in 2007/08.
  • We released statistics from the 2006 Disability Survey, which collected information on the prevalence, nature, duration and cause of disability and on the barriers that people with disability encountered in everyday life.
  • Publications from the 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings were completed. These included population estimates at 30 June 2006, broken down to territorial authority level by ethnicity, plus the national estimates of the resident population by age and sex at 30 June 2007. We also published QuickStats, which provide brief overviews of New Zealand’s communities by subject or by geographic area. Our QuickStats About A Place have been published down to area unit level, and this was the final scheduled release using data from the 2006 Census.
  • Progressing planning for the 2011 Census of Population and Dwellings, and releasing a public consultation paper on the content of the 2011 Census.
  • The development of a new series of quarterly provisional numbers of marriages and civil unions reflects increasing user demand for more up-to-date information on civil unions.
  • Over the past two years Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development have been engaged in a project to test the feasibility of integrating information from benefit records with Linked Employer-Employee Data (LEED) held by Statistics New Zealand. The final report, which was published in 2007/08, concluded that integrating benefit data with LEED data is feasible, and includes examination of possible official statistics that might be produced from integrated data.
Case study

Recently the Auckland region carried out a civil defence exercise called ‘Exercise Ruaumoko’, which centred on a potential volcanic eruption within the Manukau Harbour.

2006 Census information informed the Civil Defence team about employed population counts in the area, to give an indication of weekday evacuation numbers. Age structure information combined with usual residence counts provided the locations of different age groups throughout the region. Rodney district, for instance, has the highest proportion of elderly in the Auckland region, at 14.9 percent compared with 8.3 percent in Manukau City. This is important to know, as elderly residents tend to require more assistance in an emergency.

The census also provided information on people’s access to telecommunication systems, for evacuation warnings, and access to motor vehicles, for the ability to self-evacuate.

 

Delivering relevant statistics on Māori

We are committed to improving the quality and relevance of official statistics on Māori. Building on a long history of engagement with the Māori community, during 2007/08 a formal national Māori Statistics Advisory Committee was established to advise the Government Statistician, and to ensure that Māori statistical needs are identified and met. The committee will oversee a review of the Māori Statistics Strategy, Framework and Output Plan in 2008/09.

In 2007/08, we completed a feasibility study on the production of a regular statistical series on Māori authorities. The feasibility study identified several recommendations, which are now being considered to guide future development.

Delivering relevant statistics to inform sustainability

The interest in measuring New Zealand's sustainable development has increased over recent years, enhancing traditional ways of measuring growth and progress to better integrate economic, social and environmental factors.

Over the past two years, Statistics New Zealand has been involved in the Working Group on Statistics for Sustainable Development (a joint Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and Eurostat international working group). This group was created to assist national governments and international organisations in the design of sustainable development indicators. The working group has agreed on a definition of sustainable development, explored different measurement frameworks, and identified a small set of indicators that may become the core set for
international comparisons. In June 2008, the Conference of European Statisticians endorsed the report of the working group.

We have started adapting the framework for the New Zealand context and have established an advisory group that includes representatives from a range of central government departments, non-government organisations, local government and business.

Developing and implementing domain plans

Domain plans document key information needs and priority areas for statistical development in the domain over the next five to 10 years. Domain plans determine how best to respond to the needs of users, and determine priority actions to address shortcomings and gaps. These plans must also take into account the load on respondents, and the ability of users to access timely, relevant and reliable official statistics.

In association with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, during 2007/08 we developed a domain plan for the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sector. We have also been working with the Ministry for the Environment to produce an environment domain plan.

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • users’ satisfaction with the relevance of official statistics has increased
  • users’ satisfaction with the timeliness and relevance of information releases has increased
  • the cost to produce statistics has decreased, while quality and sustainability are maintained.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 4.

Table 4

Progress towards meeting users needs.

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Maintain an enduring national statistical resource

The official statistics compiled about New Zealand today will continue to be of value in the future. Retaining datasets enables future use of official statistics, and allows for analysis in ways that were not thought of, or not possible, at the time the data was collected. Historical statistical data is frequently used in the analysis of economic and social issues, to give context to the latest statistics by revealing the trends and patterns behind them.

To maintain an enduring statistical resource we need to ensure statistical data remains accessible and usable for many years after its initial release. Challenges we face in this area are to:

  • preserve expert knowledge about how data was collected and processed so it is still possible to make informed use of the data in the future
  • overcome rapid changes in information technology that threaten to make historical data inaccessible.

Archiving data

Our data archive provides a single reference point for unit record data for Tier 1 statistics. Within Statistics New Zealand, and with our partners in the Official Statistics System, we continue to identify and assess older data holdings. The focus of this work has been on archiving electronic data created by Statistics New Zealand over the past 20 to 30 years, which has ongoing value. Recent examples of older datasets archived include the Census of Manufacturing 1995, and the Economy Wide Census 1987. A catalogue of the contents of the data archive is now available on our website.

All government departments producing Tier 1 statistics from surveys have engaged in discussion with us about depositing their data into the data archive. Seventy percent of data collections used to produce Tier 1 statistics now have an agreed retention plan.

Improving metadata

Metadata is information about the content, quality, processing, storage and dissemination of data. In 2007/08 our metadata project continued to develop a framework for metadata that will enable internal and external users to search, interpret and analyse statistical information, using metadata in an efficient, secure and timely manner.

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • comprehensive, historically significant statistics are retained
  • statistical data will be stored and maintained in such a manner that enhances data use and access.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 5.

Table 5

Progress towards enduring source.

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Improve access to information

Improving access to official statistics is about providing potential users with the tools and skills to access and understand official statistics. Different audiences require different information. We use an audience model to guide the way we reach different user groups and tailor our products.

During 2007/08 we reviewed the mix of products and services we employ to disseminate our statistics. The vision for our developing Dissemination Strategy is to lead the dissemination of the right products with the right services, within a user-focused organisation, to expand the use of statistics.

Case study

Our MIFA initiative is about giving information back, so more New Zealanders, and more New Zealand businesses, can make informed decisions. We have received great feedback from many New Zealanders who are taking advantage of the information now freely available, including this from one user: “Population estimates at this detailed level are important base information for many of my clients. Having free access allows me to easily build this information in to my analysis for my client.”

Source: Bevin, S (2007). Managing Director, Economic Solutions Limited

 

Creating opportunities by making more information freely available

In May 2007 it was announced that a larger range of Statistics New Zealand data and products would progressively be made available free of charge during 2007 and 2008, under the Government’s Making More Information Freely Available (MIFA) initiative. Through this initiative we are providing free access to the statistical information most needed by businesses and community organisations. To date, products and data released under the MIFA initiative include:

  • Digital Boundaries
  • StreetLink
  • area unit population estimates and projections
  • the Quarterly Regional Review
  • household economic data
  • business demography data.

Our users have taken the opportunity to access the products and data that are now freely available. Within six weeks of Digital Boundaries being made free, twice as many CDs were requested, compared with the number sold in the previous three and half years, while demand for StreetLink files increased ten-fold.

Working with small businesses

During 2007/08 we continued to work closely with small and medium-sized businesses to improve their access to and use of official statistics. Efforts included:

  • Increasing our exposure at the Small Business Expos held in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. The expos provide us with an opportunity to meet with small to medium-sized businesses and outline the information we have available to help them. At each expo we also presented at the National Bank Seminar Series, on the topic “Using stats to your advantage” and sponsored the Business Information Zone.
  • Hosting nine Go Stats! seminars with local Chambers of Commerce, and attending the annual National Agricultural Fieldays. These events allow us to demonstrate to business owners how they can access and use official statistics relevant for their business.
  • Developing a free online tool to assist small and medium-sized businesses, by providing information on business demographics and markets directly useful to their business.
  • Developing the Using statistics – a guide for your business booklet, which demonstrates ways that statistics can be used to help businesses.
  • Producing a DVD for business mentors and business advisors that features case studies and testimonials from prominent New Zealand business people, highlighting the value of statistics. The DVD can be used by mentors and advisors with their clients. Statistics New Zealand staff also made presentations to several groups of business mentors at their accreditation events.
  • Being selected as a finalist at the 2008 Vero Excellence in Business Support awards, under the ‘government department’ category, which reflects our achievements in continuing to look for new ways to respond to the information needs of small-business owners.
Case study

One happy visitor was particularly impressed with the Statistics New Zealand stand at the Small Business Expo, reporting on their blog: “…my pick of the show would have to be Statistics NZ. There is a huge resource of free market research stats waiting for businesses to tap into … The whole focus on business enablement and the savviness I encountered on their stand was impressive.”

Source: Esther, C (2008). “Stats and startups”, http://syntho.org/articles/read/100/ (accessed 21 July 2008)

 

Our customer services

The primary means of access to official statistics is via three websites:

During 2007/08 all three websites saw large increases in the number of unique visitors, with the Statistics New Zealand website showing an increase of more than 35,000 unique visitors, and both the Statisphere and Population websites showing increases of over 3,000 unique visitors. Website hits, including repeat users, increased significantly. As our website is an important channel for disseminating statistical information, we aim to improve the way content is stored and organised on our website, and will continue our efforts to make it easier for users to search for information.

Users can also request specific information through our toll-free number (0508 525 525) and email service (info@stats.govt.nz). During 2007/08 we answered 27,324 requests for information (compared with 28,463 in 2006/07), and continued to gain high customer satisfaction with these services.

Our role and commitment to Māori

During 2007/08 we aligned the Māori Community Capacity Building Programme and the Pacific Liaison Programme, which will allow knowledge sharing and standardisation of our systems and processes.

During 2007/08 our Māori liaison officers continued to engage with, and support, the Māori community. We ran 18 workshops and visited over 275 Māori tribal authorities and community groups.

Our role and commitment to Pacific peoples

During 2007/08 we undertook a number of activities to build and maintain links with our Pacific peoples audience, including:

  • Attending the annual Secondary Schools Cultural Festival held in Auckland in March 2008. For the first time we sponsored the speech competition held at the festival, with over 600 participants delivering speeches in their own language. Our sponsorship and presence at the festival is a major step towards enhancing this younger audience's awareness, access and understanding of official statistics.
  • Our staff being interviewed by Television New Zealand’s Tagata Pasifika, and ethnic radio programmes, and also spending time visiting churches and community groups to inform Pacific peoples about the Census 2006 results.
  • Promoting our data in a joint venture with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs at the fonos held around New Zealand.

Creating opportunities for more people to use official statistics

During 2007/08 we progressed several initiatives that create opportunities for more people to use official statistics. These included:

  • An agreement between Statistics New Zealand and the New Zealand University Vice-Chancellors’ Committee was signed. The objective of this agreement is to help build statistical capability within New Zealand universities by making access to statistical products and services both easier and cheaper.
  • Continuing to facilitate access to microdata through our Data Lab, and the launch of a new user remote-access channel. Under strict conditions, researchers are able to access some datasets at our on-site data labs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. During 2007/08 we hosted 1,354 data lab sessions (compared with 1,213 in 2006/07). Due to high demand, our Wellington data lab was expanded during 2007/08. The expansion should also enable researchers to complete their queries more quickly.
  • Launching the Access to Microdata (AToM) service in April 2008, which allows researchers to analyse detailed unpublished data from their own desks by writing programs and submitting them online. This service was based on the Remote Access Data Laboratory software developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Case study

The New Zealand Index of Deprivation (NZDep) has been used for over 10 years to measure socioeconomic differences across the population. During 2007/08 we hosted research in our Data Lab, which extended the NZDep atlas – to be based on the district health board (DHB) and territorial authority (TA) structure. The inclusion of these boundaries will improve the accessibility and utility of the index. The atlas launch was the subject of the Public Health Intelligence 2008 analytical workshop.

 

Facilitating access through the use of visualisation

We aim to provide information in an innovative and informative manner. Visualisation is one way to make use of emerging technologies to present statistical information, for example, by linking statistics to location. In 2007/08, a variety of possible visualisation tools were investigated and we will confirm the direction of this work in 2008/09.

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • a high level of customer satisfaction with our customer services continues to be reported
  • we engage with more people in New Zealand’s business sector to promote the use of official statistics
  • statistics produced by all government departments are located on Statisphere.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 6.

Table 6

Progress towards improving access.

2 Tier 1 statistics are a set of key performance measures for New Zealand.

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