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A new law on statistics to meet current needs

The Government today proposes a new law on official statistics and Statistics Norway. Statistics Norway will mainly continue to operate as today. – The agency performs essential duties and enjoys considerable public confidence. The bill allows this to continue, says the Minister of Finance Siv Jensen (Progress party).

The proposal builds on the work conducted by The Statistics act committee, presented last spring.

The existing law on official statistics was perceived as highly up-to-date when it was introduced in 1989, but the world of statistics has changed considerably since then.

The proposed law will regulate official statistics and Statistics Norway. Key suggestions are:

  • A national programme will provide the framework for official statistics
  • Statistics Norway will continue to perform a dual official task – producing statistics and conducting research and analysis
  • Statistics Norway will maintain its professional independence
  • The existing board will be replaced by an advisory committee

A new national statistical programme
A national statistical programme shall set out which statistics will be produced and who will be responsible for the production.

Statistics Norway is and will continue to be the national statistical authority in Norway. Statistics Norway shall prepare a programme proposal after consultations with other producers of official statistics. The programme proposal will be subject to a public hearing, to ensure that also users of official statistics can provide their input. The programme will be approved by the King in Council.

– Official statistics constitute our common fact base. It forms the basis for public discussion, for policy-making, and for decisions made in all parts of the society. A statistical programme will provide an overview of all official statistics in Norway. We see value in an open and comprehensive assessment of the society’s need for official statistics, says the finance minister.

Data to and from Statistics Norway
The bill provides Statistics Norway with the legal basis to collect the data necessary to produce official statistics. Research institutes and public authorities can apply for access to data from Statistics Norway for statistical purposes, research and analysis. It will not be possible to apply for access to health data.

– The Government places great importance on personal data protection. Indeed, we consider this bill to provide the right balance between important considerations, says the minister of finance.

Statistics Norway will continue to perform a dual official task
Statistics Norway will continue to perform the task of providing research and analysis for the parliament, the government and the social partners in the labour markets. A dual task of producing statistics and conducting research and analysis is not common in other countries. Yet, Statistics Norway has a history of delivering valuable research and analysis. The government sees great value in that Statistics Norway continue to perform a dual official task.

Statistics Norway will maintain its professional independence
As it does today, Statistics Norway will enjoy professional independence. The bill provides clarification on this matter.

The head of Statistics Norway shall not ask for or receive instructions from anyone in decisions related to statistical methods, standards, or time of statistical releases. Statistics Norway shall also enjoy professional independence when conducting research and analysis.

Board replaced by advisory committee
The government suggests that the existing board be replaced by an advisory committee, in line with the recommendation from The Statistics act committee. Professional independence, as defined by regulation on European statistics, implies that professional matters should be the sole responsibility of the head of the Statistics Norway, leaving less responsibilities to the board.

The advisory committee shall be a support for the head of Statistics Norway, and at the same time oversee that Statistics Norway perform its duties in accordance with its dual official task. The advisory committee will issue its assessments in an annual report to The Ministry of Finance, and in this way contribute to openness about the activities of Statistics Norway.

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