Friday 5 April 2019

Census Whoas

If Stats NZ does not produce detail for Parliament on non-response rates in the last Census, its Chief Exec may be up on Contempt of Parliament. 

Here's Stuff:
Government Statistician Liz MacPherson is facing contempt of Parliament after being ordered by MPs to produce census information.

In an unusual move, a select committee has placed a standing order on Statistics NZ chief executive to produce the number of partial responses were received in Census 2018.

MacPherson was first asked by to provide the answer by the governance and administration select committee during its annual review in February, and again on Wednesday. Both times she declined.

The chief statistician now says she will provide the information – which could further reveal the extent of Census 2018 issues – not on the given April 10 deadline but as part of an announcement promised later in the month.
National's been a bit displeased with Stats, or at least so goes the rumour 'bout town, since GDP revisions and immigration figure revisions that, had they been correct the first time round, might have affected the last election. But this is a unanimous request of the committee for information - it isn't just Nick Smith.
MacPherson was unavailable for an interview on Friday, but in a statement remained firm that it was not the appropriate time to release the number of partial responses to Census 2018.

"It is my hope that the committee will appreciate that I have made this determination after careful thought and application of statistical best practice.

"Without the appropriate context, these individual numbers would be open to misinterpretation," MacPherson said.

She said the number of full and partial responses would now be provided in an announcement later this month, when Stats NZ would also detail when the first census results would be released.

"This is simply a question of timing ... When we produce information for the public we outline the methodology and limitations of any data produced," MacPherson said.
Fair enough, but it has been more than a year since the 2018 Census.
University of Otago professor Andrew Geddis said it was "very unusual" for such an order to be placed on state sector chief executive.

"I can't remember a time a public servant has refused after being told they must answer."

If a complaint was taken to the speaker or the House, Macpherson could be forced to apologise or be censured by the privileges committee.

"That would be a very major escalation. I would expect that the House treat it as contempt."
Meanwhile, other parts of Stats are still trying to figure out how to measure spirituality

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