The Peer Review Report on the Bulgarian National Statistical System has been published on the NSI’s and Eurostat’s websites. The document is aimed at assessing the compliance of the producing the official statistics in Bulgaria with the 16 principles of the European Statistics Code of Practice. The Third Round of the Peer Reviews within the European Statistical System (2021-2023) emphasizes the independence of national statistical offices, the coordination among different authorities and their modernization.
The National Statistical Institute has a clear mandate to coordinate all statistical activities related to the development, production and dissemination of national and European statistics, the Report underlines.
The fundamental principle of professional independence is explicitly established in the Statistics Act and its importance is clearly recognized across the Bulgarian statistical system and beyond. Professional independence is acknowledged by both users and providers of data needed for the production of official statistics, and their trust in statistics and in the National Statistical Institute as a professional independent producer is high. This trust is also shared by important users such as the scientific community and the media.
NSI has an Integrated Management System of quality and information security, based on ISO 9001 and ISO 2700 certification. Its strong position in quality and data security enables the National Statistical Institute to coordinate quality in the Bulgarian statistical system and to participate actively in the broader data landscape within Bulgaria and within the e-government strategy.
The report contains recommendations for improvement of the NSS activities, addressed to the government, NSI and other producers of European statistics - Other National Authorities (ONAs). Both the findings and the recommendations are covering four main areas: ensuring professional independence by adopting , legislation amendments; providing adequate financial and human resources; strengthening coordination and visibility of quality in the Bulgarian Statistical System; making the most of the evolving data landscape.
It is expected NSI to develop and implement action plan for further improvement of the official statistics in Bulgaria.
Reports of EU Member States already passed Peer Review
The third round of Peer review of the NSS of Bulgaria was held between 28. March – 1. April 2022 as part of its membership in the European Statistical system (ESS). All ESS members are subject to peer reviews, incl. Eurostat, the national statistical systems of the EU Member States, and of the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The third round of ESS peer reviews started in the first quarter 2021 and will run until mid-2023 in all EU and EFTA Member States.
Among each ESS member state, besides the National Sstatistical Ooffice, between 3 and 6 other national authorities are also reviewed – these are bodies responsible for collecting, producing and disseminating official European statistics. In Bulgaria subject to the peer reviews are additionally the administrative units part of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment and Waters and The National Social Security Institute.
The peer review is aimed at assessing the compliance of the national policies and practices in the field of official statistics with the principles of the European Statistical Code of Practice. The ES CoP is the basis of the common ESS quality framework – a document that ensures the quality of the official data. The Code defines 16 key principles, which cover the institutional environment, the statistical processes and the statistical outputs, as well as a set of 84 indicators for assessment of the best implemented practices and standards.
The methodology of the peer review is uniform for the Eurostat and all ESS member countries and includes elements of audit. First, NSI and the selected other national authorities fill in a comprehensive self-assessment questionnaire and submit documents for implementation of the Code principles in their practice as evidence for their answers. The questionnaires and the documents are checked and analyzed by an expert team including 4 experts in statistics, audit and management, assigned by means of a special procedure by the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB). There is a Eurostat representative in each review team. After the initial assessment, the team visits the respective member state where it carries out review on spot and meets with a wide circle of stakeholders, incl. government, businesses, media, social partners, academia representatives, etc. Finally, the review team compiles a final report with recommendations, on which NSI elaborates a plan for further improvement actions in compliance with the recommendations.
The peer review for Bulgaria is by Ms. Marjo Bruun, until recently the Director General of the Statistics Office of Finland. The other members of the team include:
Mr. Kees Zeelenberg – Chief Methodologist at Statistics Netherlands
Mr. Jordi del Bas – senior independent evaluator for international organizations (European Commission, several UN agencies and World Bank, among others);
Ms. Helena Ottosson – Head of the Legal Department of Eurostat.
Observer of the Peer Review in Bulgaria is Ms. Claudia Junker who is Head of Task Force "Peer Reviews and quality" at Eurostat.
The National Statistical Offices of the EU Member States recognize the Peer Reviews as a mechanism guaranteeing the quality of European Statistics.