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Strategic Direction

Our operating environment 

The economic climate experienced during 2008/09 placed great demands on the statistical system to produce information that could enable the impact of international events on New Zealand to be assessed, and could be used by Government in its social and economic decision-making.

In a time of labour market change our statistics receive increased attention as they are scrutinised more closely by people seeking insights into current trends, and by economic forecasters wanting to predict what might happen. We play an important role in responding to the economic downturn, by ensuring that Government and businesses have the information needed to make critical decisions on the future of the public sector and individual businesses.

In addition, a new Government was elected, with a particular focus on improving the business of government and reducing the pressure on the Government’s fiscal position. Government departments are expected to find efficiencies in operating expenditure and identify opportunities for broader efficiencies in programme delivery and policy, with the intention of improving outcomes for the public.

Our success over the next few years will depend on our ability to adapt to these changing circumstances and to continue to provide sound and useful economic advice that positions New Zealand well for the coming years.

Our contribution to the Government's strategic direction

The Government aims to lift incomes and living standards in New Zealand by increasing productivity and economic growth. Official statistics enable the Government to make well-informed decisions, to monitor progress nationally and internationally, and to inform specific policy debates. Impartial and reliable statistics on social outcomes and the productivity of the public sector enable government to assess the value-for-money achieved from its spending. Official statistics are also needed by businesses to make sound investment decisions and improve their competitiveness in the world economy.

The Government’s five priorities for official statistics contribute to the growth of the New Zealand economy, which will deliver greater prosperity, security, and opportunities for New Zealanders (see figure 1).

Figure, Government priorities for statistics. 

The outcomes we are seeking

End outcome: An informed society using official statistics

What are we seeking to achieve?

Official statistics enable people to understand the current economic, social, and physical environment. Official statistics are important for making decisions about spending and investment, and the provision of social services. It is vital that these decisions are based on sound statistical information, as this will increase the effectiveness of any resulting interventions and ensure better outcomes for New Zealanders. For these reasons, the outcome sought from the Official Statistics System is an informed society using official statistics.

In order to achieve our end outcome of having an informed society using official statistics, we need to ensure users and potential users have trust and confidence in the statistics produced, and are able to access and use them (see figure 2).

Figure, Outcome and Impact for the Official Statistics System. 

How do we demonstrate success?

Use of statistics by government, businesses, and individuals

We engage with government agencies, businesses, researchers, and individuals who use official statistics every day to inform important decisions. Some specific uses of official statistics are detailed in table 1.

 Table, Use of Statistics.

Impact: Trust and confidence in the Official Statistics System

What are we seeking to achieve?

Assurance that the Official Statistics System and its outputs are trustworthy is vital so that users can be confident when basing decisions on official statistics and using those statistics to inform debate, research, and decision making. We must ensure official statistics are relevant to the needs of current and prospective users, are produced using sound statistical methodology, and are based on appropriate and reliable data sources. To maintain the cooperation of data suppliers, we must demonstrate the value of their data, protect the information that they supply, and ensure that it is as easy as possible for them to respond to our requests for information. 

How do we achieve this?

To ensure respondents, users, and potential users have trust and confidence in the Official Statistics System, we are:

How do we demonstrate success?

Public perceptions of Statistics New Zealand and the Official Statistics System

We use several measures as a proxy for perceptions of and satisfaction with Statistics New Zealand. Feedback from users has mostly been positive. All recently surveyed customised data clients rated Statistics New Zealand’s service as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. Additionally, 72 percent of Official Statistics System seminar attendees ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the seminars were relevant to their work. See ‘Facilitate access to official statistics’ for more detail on these measures.

Impact: Access to official statistics

What are we seeking to achieve?

We are seeking an Official Statistics System in which users are able to access official statistics, and have the knowledge and capability to use them. Statistical information is more valuable if it can be accessed easily by users, is presented in a format that meets their needs, and is sufficiently documented for users to understand the data and judge the quality of the fit with their needs. By ensuring people are aware of official statistics, and can access and understand them, we enable them to use statistics in their research, stimulate and inform debate, and strengthen decision making.

How do we achieve this?

To ensure users and potential users have access to official statistics, we are:

How do we demonstrate success?

Awareness of official statistics and perception of the accessibility of official statistics

We use several measures as a proxy for awareness and accessibility of official statistics. During 2008/09, there was an increase in the number of users accessing official statistics, the number of sessions in our data laboratories, and the number of unique visitors to the Statistics New Zealand website. (A person who visits a particular page is counted as a unique visitor, no matter how many times they visit during the stated reporting period.) There was a strong uptake of our Infoshare tool with over 3,000 unique visitors in June 2009, compared with a target of 1,000. See ‘Facilitate access to official statistics’ for more detail on these measures.

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