Recommendations on capacity-building of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Millennium Development Goals Indicators - October 2005

The recommendations presented below are the result of a discussion among representative of national statistical offices, donors and international agencies, about priorities in statistical capacity-building for the production and use of development indicators, effective delivery of technical assistance, and coordination of support at the national and international levels. The discussion took place at the eighth meeting of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Millennium Development Goal Indicators, held in Rome, 26 - 27 October 2005.

Summary of recommendations on capacity-building of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Millennium Development Goals Indicators

Eighth meeting, Rome, 26 and 27 October 2005

1.  With regard to good practices and ways to improve statistical capacity in countries, the meeting agreed on the need to: (a) strengthen the capacity for data analysis (with international assistance) and improve IT capacity and use; (b) improve coordination with line ministries producing statistics (with the additional challenge of assessing quality of the data they produce); (c) establish a national statistical office that is fully independent and has a clear mandate for the collection, processing and dissemination of official statistics that is supported by a strong political commitment; (d) set up career incentives to retain qualified staff; (e) address the issue of balance between national budget- and donor-supported projects; (f) develop a strategic national statistical master plan which should be based on country's needs rather than be driven by international agencies' priorities and defined by the national statistical office together with all the stakeholders in the country; (g) seek support from international agencies only to cover specific costs in accordance with the plan; and (h) in order for the above to be sustainable ensure that most national statistical initiatives are covered by national budgets and supported by a strong political will.

2.  The meeting further agreed on the following recommendations:

(a)  Strategic national planning and national strategies for the development of statistics are key to improving statistics. This entails having supporting legislation and governing arrangements and formulating a national statistical plan through a mechanism to involve all stakeholders;

(b)  Statistical development should be anchored at the decision-making level. The Millennium Development Goals are used to inform strategies/policies, which in turn should inform statistical systems at the subnational, national and global levels on the statistics that are needed;

(c)  Statistical development needs to be sustainable. There is a need to cost each component of a national statistical plan and to promote its funding by the national budget and by donors. Participants stressed the need to improve/increase the retention of qualified staff in national statistical offices and to better transfer skills among staff. Also, the role of the regional commissions should be reviewed and South-South cooperation enhanced;

(d)  Good practices in statistics should be enhanced and technical cooperation strengthened. Also, the following issues were recognized as the basis for good practices in statistics: the coordination of data requests needs to be improved; IT needs to be strengthened to improve transparency and to enhance communication; international agencies should rely more heavily on official statistics produced by national statistical offices for their data needs; and coordination by donors, bilateral and United Nations agencies in countries should be improved.

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