The National Statistics Office’s work programme is into its third edition and is an established part of the NSO’s body of institutional documents. Its main uses are both internal and external.
Internally, it is meant to plan initiatives and projects and chart progress made. Externally, its purpose is to keep the NSO’s statistical partners, stakeholders, and users well informed on the NSO’s operational strategy during the current year and for the two years ahead.
The concept of a three-year rolling period is grounded in the need to maintain continuity. On the back of a year characterised by solid efforts to recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the NSO continued to take forward its direction to identify more administrative data sources and formalise arrangements with the owner-entities to increase their use for statistical purposes.
This summary is intended to complement the Director General’s foreword where he outlined the NSO’s direction for the current year and ensuing two years. The work programme promotes continuity as its underpinning concept and here, the achievements and outputs resulting from the directorates’ collective efforts are concisely described.
Since the last work programme, some restructuring was made to streamline work processes. The Central Management Unit was set up to strengthen collaboration. In Social Statistics, Culture and Tourism were integrated with Living Conditions while Community Safety, representing crime statistics, was integrated with the Education domain. Several cross-directorate initiatives have been launched, among which the setting-up of internal task forces to improve cross-domain coherence. Such task forces should be operational in 2023/2024.
Within Economic Statistics, detailed tasks are well underway in preparation for the benchmark revision in 2024. This is a cross-unit effort spearheaded by the National Accounts domain and the work includes the use of new methodologies and incorporation of updates. In National Accounts and Public Finance, several derogations and quality reservations noted by Eurostat, which have been pending for years, were addressed successfully. Improvement in the timeliness of compilation of Supply, Use and Input-Output tables is expected to result in addressing pending compliance issues. In Balance of Payments, work towards the full implementation of INFOSTAT is advanced. Moreover, this domain implemented several enhancements which enabled an important ad hoc revision in June 2023. In International Trade, collaboration with external parties and new methods of follow-up are contributing significantly to minimise under-reporting.
Within Business, Sectoral and Regional Statistics, two full publications appeared. These were: Regional Statistics MALTA 2023 edition and Transport Statistics 2022. A Eurostat grant on integration of geospatial information and statistics was completed in January 2023. Another grant on microdata linking regarding several innovative topics in business data will be concluded in the current year. The survey on the use of petroleum products by economic activity is a collaborative project between the NSO, the Energy and Water Agency, and the Environment and Resources Authority. It is intended to provide data on energy, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. It corresponds to data obligations contained in the European Green Deal and so has national and international dimensions. This edition of the exercise will be finalised in 2023.
Within Social Statistics, the preliminary results of the Malta Skills Survey carried out in 2022 appeared in June and the full report will be published by the end of 2023. Another full publication, incorporating the conclusions of a Continuing Vocational Training enquiry carried out among business enterprises in 2021, was issued. Technical assistance to stakeholders in the anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism field is provided regularly. Administrative data collected on gender-based violence resulted in a dedicated news release published in April. Work on the results of a Safety and Wellbeing Survey is in progress. This was a Eurostat grant project executed as a collaborative effort with Units within Data Resources, IT and Methodology. The data for the Structure of Earnings Survey 2022 is being collected and organised with publication of results planned for 2024. The Methodology and Quality Unit took the lead in analysing the data collected for Census of Population and Housing 2021 and preparing it for publication. For the Social Statistics Directorate, post-census revisions will necessitate a re-calibration of population figures and will also impact future social surveys. Detailed preparations are ongoing for this exercise, including simulations.
Within Data Resources, IT and Methodology, the SPSA Transformation is undoubtedly a major, long-term project. Implementation of statistical domains onto the new centralised IT architectural platform is set to start in the current year. With a view to systemising information security, staff members are trained in and assessed on information security topics every year. Another measure is the many technical controls put in place for the NSO’s media devices. Within the same directorate, the first in a series of Census 2021 publications was issued, on the theme: Population, migration, and other social characteristics. A second thematic publication on dwellings will follow soon. Documentation of work processes across all statistical domains is now established as a regular practice. The Quality Management Framework seeks to improve all data life cycles by standardising internal practices to the extent possible – work on its implementation and ultimate publication has made good progress. Several surveys carried out on behalf of third parties are at various stages of progress; these include surveys that support areas of policy making. Also, the final report related to the Eurostat Peer Review carried out at the NSO in October 2022 received a lot of incremental input and is now very close to being finalised at Eurostat’s level.
Within Corporate Services, many achievements were made regarding the NSO Rebranding project. The completely refurbished website was launched in early April together with other products such as the new NSO logo and presentation template. The process will continue during the remainder of 2023 and into 2024. Many disseminated products are now being translated into Maltese and there are plans to expand translation to other statistical content. Another achievement is adherence to SDDS Plus, the International Monetary Fund’s refinement of the Special Data Dissemination Standard. Regarding recruitment, the directorate is putting in action a strategy to increase intake of interns to the NSO. Several new features have been added to DAKAR, the HR software system, among which is the transition of the performance management system to electronic modules on DAKAR. Additionally, Collective Agreement negotiations are being conducted in earnest.
Within Finance, the many functions relating to budgetary and financial management have been executed with the required timeliness, including management accounts and other accounting records. The European Social Fund (ESF) staff training project ended by means of an important programme – “R” computer programming language. The target audience consisted mostly of statisticians, for whom participation was obligatory. However, other members in various grades attended the course. The programme consisted of a basic course and an advanced course. The sessions were organised such that each group did not exceed 25 participants. One hundred and twenty-one participants completed the basic course and were awarded certificates. Forty-eight participants completed the advanced course and were awarded certificates.
The purpose of this executive summary is to document progress made over the last work programme. Therefore, the keyword is achievement. That said, there are many more ongoing initiatives, in different stages of production, which are being steered to their successful conclusion.