The production of statistical data and information in the Caribbean: proposals for increasing efficiency in this sphere
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Introduction Much has been written on the difficulty of obtaining statistical data on the Caribbean. Many commentators have examined the problem from several angles, including the organization of the statistical offices, the issue of training and the issue of budgetary resources that impose an upper limit to the size of staff that can be employed at the statistical office. While there is much to say about any of the issues given as examples of the facets of the problem, in the final analysis the management of limited statistical resources is at the core of the data poverty. This paper examines aspects of the external and internal environments that impact the production and delivery of relevant and accurate statistics. Whereas there is great variability in the size of the statistical offices throughout the subregion, the difficulties encountered in the production of statistics are differences in degree rather than in kind. This paper draws from information collected in a survey of Caribbean government statistics-producing offices and examines the following: The issue of disclosure of information that could breach the confidentiality that underlies the relationship between the statistical office and its data suppliers; The authority of other organizations to collect and publish statistical data; The organization of data collection, processing, analysis and dissemination within any country; The issues of duplication of effort and respondent burden; The identification and capture of statistical series of emerging importance. Included among the proposals for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the production of statistics is a discussion on the present mechanism for bringing on board the measurement of new indicators of emerging phenomena of national interest and a definition of the boundaries of statistical production. With some will and commitment, the statistical production frontier can be displaced upwards and to the right with little additional burden on the recurrent expenditure of central government.