What is good governance ?

The importance of Governance for the good of a National Statistical System

The concept of good governance stems from the theory of democracy and the organisation of society. Governance refers to the organisation of society according to rules and norms accepted by its inhabitants.   Over time, these principles were adopted by the civil service followed by business undertakings. The Malta Statistics Authority is no exception. In 2013, the former chairman of the MSA Prof. Albert Leone Ganado set-up the Authority’s first governance sub-committee.

Principles drawn from International Institutions

Global institutions such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe work endlessly to promote good governance, democracy, and observance of human rights.  Both institutions share common ground on the principles which are required for the fruition of these values, namely:

  1. Participation, Representation and fair conduct,
  2. Responsiveness,
  3. Efficiency and Effectiveness,
  4. Openness and Transparency,
  5. Rule of Law,
  6. Ethical Conduct,
  7. Competence and Capacity,
  8. Innovation and Openness to change,
  9. Sustainability and Long-term orientation,
  10. Sound financial management,
  11. Human rights, cultural diversity, and social cohesion,
  12. Accountability.
Governance and a Statistical System

The Malta Statistics Authority has an obligation to observe and promote these principles on a macro and a micro level. On a macro level its role is to advocate for the good use of official statistics and for their use in decision making processes. In the realm of public policy official statistics is now considered as the fourth pillar of a democracy for it is an indispensable element in the system of information of any democracy[i].

On a micro level, good governance practices are reinforced through the practice of policies promoting equality at the workplace, opportunities for development, equal pay for equal work and the observance of financial regulations.

How are these principles ingrained in the local statistical system

The Malta Statistics Authority Board is at the pinnacle of the National Statistical System which is composed of a wide range of social partners and industry stakeholders.

Responsiveness, Efficiency and Effectiveness

The national statistics programme is executed in its entirety  by the National Statistics Office.  The programme covers all the national obligations towards the European Statistical System but particular needs which are unique to Malta as a small island state. The role of the Authority is to ensure the programmes exhaustiveness.

Competence, capacity, and sound financial management

The Authority is a non-profit-making organisation. To ensure its independent regulatory role it is funded directly through central government funds. These funds are managed by the Authority and employed for the compilation and dissemination of official statistics.  The authority conducts internal checks to ensure that taxpayer’s money is used optimally and for the purpose it is intended for.   The Authority is also subject to annual statutory financial audits and other financial verification processes.

Innovation and openness

In the realm of official statistics, the concept of innovation and openness is positively correlated with technology advancements aimed at improving user’s experience, data literacy and data ethics.

As expressed hereinabove the compilation and communication strategies of official statistics are the sole responsibility of the National Statistics Office. In this regard the Authority strongly advocates for the innovation and modernisation of the National Statistics Office so it can be meet the demand of its many users from different walks of life.

However, the Authority has the moral responsibility to ensure that official statistics are interpreted correctly. To increase the proper use of statistical the Authority also uses its modest resources to improve statistical literacy. Nowadays, the latter is becoming more important than ever before due to infoxication.

In upholding these principles, the Authority is living up to its motif: ‘Trust, Governance and Competence in Statistics.

[i] Official statistics (

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