Making National Statistical Offices Work Better: Evidence from a Survey of 13,300 National Statistical Office (NSO) Employees in 14 Latin American and Caribbean Countries

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Rojas Wettig, Magdalena;
Sass Mikkelsen, Kim;
Meyer-Sahling, Jan
Nov 2023
High-quality official statistics--from inflation to poverty rates--are essential for effective policymaking. Yet, little is known about the statistics officials who produce this statistical data. How competent are they at statistics? How motivated and ethical are they when producing statistics? And do National Statistical Offices (NSOs) manage them effectively? The answers are central to improving statistical capacity. Nonetheless, NSOs have not developed systematic measurement instruments to identify them. This pioneering publication addresses this gap. It presents the results of a survey of 13,300 NSO Employees in 14 Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Findings show that statistics officials and their characteristics matter. For instance, greater competence of statistics officials correlates with greater statistical performance of an NSO. Findings also show that most statistics officials are motivated in their jobs and committed to their NSO yet many struggle with basic statistical competencies and are not satisfied with their remunerations. Beneath the surface of average findings, however, lies a landscape of substantial variation among NSOs and within different departments inside the same NSO. These disparities are driven in part by differences in human resources management practices. Certain practices, for instance related to merit recruitment, adequate pay and performance feedback, are associated with greater staff motivation, integrity and competence. The report thus provides a data-informed roadmap to manage NSOs better and a survey instrument to help NSOs around the world measure their own management and staff.