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Fundamental principles of statistics

In its endeavour to fulfill the purpose of providing users with quality information, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has adopted the following principles developed by the Economics and Social Council Statistical Commission of the United Nations:

Principle 1: Relevance, impartiality and equal access

Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis to honour citizens’ entitlement to public information.

Principle 2: Professional standards and ethics

To retain trust in official statistics, Stats SA will decide, according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data.

Principle 3: Accountability and transparency

To facilitate the correct interpretation of data, Stats SA will present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of statistics.

Principle 4: Prevention of misuse

Stats SA is entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.

Principle 5: Cost-effectiveness

Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Stats SA will choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on respondents.

Principle 6: Confidentiality

Individual data collected by Stats SA for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, will be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes.

Principle 7: Legislation

The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate will be made public.

Principle 8: National coordination

Stats SA will promote coordination among statistical producers within South Africa in order to advance consistency and efficiency in the statistical system.

Principle 9: International standards

Stats SA will use international concepts, classifications and methods, where possible, to promote the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems between countries.

Principle 10: International cooperation

Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries.