Principle 1: Relevance to Policy Issues—A statistical agency must provide information that is relevant to issues of public policy and useful to a broad range of public- and private-sector users as well as the general public. To establish priorities for its programs, a statistical agency must not only work closely with the executive branch, Congress, and interested non-governmental groups, but also engage a broad spectrum of users in the business sector, academia, state and local governments, and elsewhere. Interaction with stakeholders is essential to enable a statistical agency to continually reassess the needs of its users for information.

Principle 2: Credibility Among Data Users—Because few data users are in a position to verify the completeness and accuracy of statistical information, they must rely on an agency’s reputation as a source of accurate and useful statistics that are free from political and other undue external influence. An agency builds credibility with users when it widely disseminates its data on an equal basis to all. Also essential to building credibility is that an agency exhibit openness about its data sources and their limitations, be willing to understand and meet user needs, and provide full documentation of the processes used to produce and disseminate statistical products.

Principle 3: Trust Among Data Providers—Data providers, such as survey respondents and custodians of administrative records, must be able to trust that the information they provide to a statistical agency will be used only for the purposes that the agency has described. Thus, they must be able to trust that information collected for statistical purposes will not be used for another purpose, such as law enforcement or regulation, directed at specific individuals or organizations. Data providers must also be able to trust that a statistical agency will honor its pledge to protect the confidentiality of their responses. A statistical agency further builds trust among data providers by respecting their privacy and autonomy through minimizing the intrusiveness of questions and the time and effort to respond, consistent with the agency’s requirements for information, and through informing them of the expected time required to participate in the data collection, whether the collection is mandatory or voluntary, and the important uses of the information.

Principle 4: Independence from Political and Other Undue External Influence—To be credible and unhindered in its mission, a statistical agency must maintain a widely acknowledged position of independence from undue

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement