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Improving systems and processes

Producing official statistics requires a high-quality statistical infrastructure to support design, collection, processing, analysis, storage and dissemination processes. We aim to have a statistical system supported by a technological platform that meets the organisation’s needs for long-term sustainability. The vision of improved systems needs to be underpinned by a standard underlying business model and best practice statistical methods. With an ageing infrastructure in need of reinvestment, we face financial pressure in a situation of decreasing revenue and increasing costs.

Ensuring sustainability of our systems and processes

Our generic business process model describes and defines Statistics New Zealand’s standard end-to-end business process, and ensures that different business units employ common systems and process. During 2007/08 we continued to embed this model, through implementing a centralised business process model repository, using the model as a base for our Standards Framework database, and promoting the model in our orientation and core statistics training and development programmes.

Case study

Our generic business process model has been recognised as a sound base for development of an internationally agreed model of the statistical cycle. In April 2008, members from Eurostat, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Statistical Commission, and the Economic Commission for Europe proposed the Statistics New Zealand model be refined and adopted as their generic statistical business process model.

 

We also identified best practice methods to be used in our statistical work, and assessed our current practices against these standards. Our methods are generally well standardised and fit for the needs of our surveys. However, this process highlighted some methods could be updated to reflect new practices or the increased availability of administrative data. The work has also identified further possibilities to use standard software tools developed in other statistical agencies.

In terms of our software, during 2007/08 we reviewed our approach to ensure our current path forward will be sustainable. While we remain focused on migrating from our current individual systems to a standardised, reusable environment, the speed of transition will depend on our assessment of how successful our first set of systems prove to be in achieving business benefits.

We continue to build on our successes in reusing our statistical infrastructure and systems. Our Census 2006 analytical outputs solution has seen the successful release of two Census 2006 products, and was also applied to our Student Loans publications, allowing a range of detailed analysis that may not have otherwise been possible. In addition, our new respondent management system has been deployed in both business and household surveys.

Ensuring sustainability in the way we manage information

We use the phrase ‘statistical architecture’ to describe how we are going to develop our statistical databases, methods and standards to meet our long-term statistical needs in the most effective way. This is an important part of how we will future-proof our investment plans. We have separate strategies in the business and social statistics areas. While these are at different stages of maturity, there are some broad priorities to clarify:

  • how to maximise the use of administrative data in understanding the economy, especially how to use a variety of sources to build the most comprehensive possible picture of the annual financial performance of businesses
  • the possible expansion of our existing administrative data integration projects to better understand New Zealanders’ key life-cycle transitions
  • how we can minimise costs and maximise the benefits from our Programme of Official Social Statistics surveys.

In 2007/08 we have been doing evaluative work on these issues, and will be developing more detailed strategies in 2008/09.

Developing standards and classifications

During the year we continued to revise and develop the statistical standards we use. Adopting common statistical standards minimises costs associated with the development of duplicate standards. During 2007/08, two new standards were signed off by the Government Statistician:

  • The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), which comprises three related classifications and will be used to measure and analyse research and experimental development in Australia and New Zealand, in both the public and private sectors. This standard is a joint development of Statistics New Zealand, the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and involved extensive consultation among New Zealand and Australian stakeholders.
  • The New Zealand Standard Trade Classification – Level of Processing (NZSTC – LOP), which will be used by Statistics New Zealand and other members of the Official Statistics System to identify the value of trade in commodities, specifically the degree to which these commodities have been processed prior to import or export.

Ensuring sustainable business practices

Internationally, there is a growing awareness and move towards more efficient and 'greener' use of resources within the workplace. Statistics New Zealand recognises the value of such a move, and aims to implement environmentally sustainable business practices. For Statistics New Zealand, this means outputs and outcomes are achieved while using resources efficiently, increasing the use of resources with low environmental impact, and minimising waste produced. As part of the Ministry for the Environment's Govt3 programme, sustainability initiatives introduced in 2007/08 include:

  • a new waste system across all three offices in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, which encourages recycling and reduces our waste that goes to landfill
  • improvements in our energy consumption, with a timer system installed for all lights in informal meeting spaces
  • printing on recycled paper
  • investigating the installation of a heat reticulator, which recycles heat from our building back into heating our water
  • business travel (plane and taxi) baselines were investigated as a component of the Govt3 mandate, which aims to have a Workplace Travel Plan in place by 2010, to reduce our organisation’s kilometres travelled by 15 percent.

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • the cost to produce statistics decreases, while quality and sustainability are maintained
  • improvements are made in energy efficiency, and in monitoring and reporting of sustainable activities.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 7.

Table 7

Progress towards improving systems

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