Government is putting measures in place to modernise the collection, analysis and sharing of data, as part of its efforts to modernise operations and improve efficiency across the board.
The process includes the updating of the existing Statistical Act (1958), which permits the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) to collect and compile data on individuals, households and businesses, which is then used to inform policy.
Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, made the announcement during the virtual launch of BSS’ new website this morning.
“The Act that governs the BSS was enacted in 1958, and like several others that we, as the Government of Barbados, have had to update over the last three years, which while it has served its time, it simply does not suit modern agenda for data collection, analysis and sharing,” she said.
Minister Caddle explained that aside from the legislative changes, the Statistical Service was in the process of undergoing a structural transformation.
“This new website is just one of those ways the transformation is taking place, but the transformation has to happen not just in function but also the structure. And that’s one of the reasons why we have been working with the team at BSS to be able to transition not just in terms of updating legislation that would modernise the way we share data across ministries and departments, but also with the public.
We are also starting a transition from the Barbados Statistical Service to a Statistics and Data Analytics Authority,” she disclosed.
Minister Caddle underscored the importance of data to “evidence-based policymaking”, stating “we don’t just want to use anecdotal evidence”.
“We want to understand what is going on in the lives of every Barbadian, prices, unemployment…. We also need to understand people’s experiences with service, consuming from the Government, private sector and so on. So, administrative data is very important. We don’t just want to be doing surveys as the BSS; we want to be doing data analytics, or what we call big data to understand what is happening and come up with more effective policies for the people of Barbados,” she explained.
It was against this background that Minister Caddle encouraged individuals and businesses to participate in the official surveys of the BSS, “because without that evidence we cannot develop strong policy”.
The Minister also sought to reassure respondents and the general public that the information they provide was well-secured, noting that “the Data Protection legislation that the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology has recently developed goes a long way to protect individual data”.
Ms. Caddle added that the Barbados Statistical Service had developed its surveys in such a way that allows for the respondents to remain anonymous.