Puerto Rico Statistics Institute director warns changes could result in loss of funds
SAN JUAN – The executive director of the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute (SI), Dr. Mario Marazzi Santiago, expressed his opposition to the consolidation of that body with the Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) to outsource its functions, assuring that such a measure would be contrary to federal and state public policy aimed at avoiding manipulation of data and statistics.
“In short, these [provisions] constitute a dangerous precedent that destroys the credibility of a transparent, effective, objective and comprehensive system of statistical data collection for the benefit of Puerto Rico,” said Marazzi Santiago during his presentation before the Special Commission for the Restructuring & Reorganization of Puerto Rico and the Government Committee that is evaluating House Bill 1403.
Marazzi Santiago anticipates that the reorganization of SI, as proposed by HB 1403, would entail the loss of federal funds. He also took the opportunity to remind that the New Government Act, which was approved in December, and seeks to maximize executive branch resources provides that “any change to a program or agency under this law would be rendered ineffective if the change results in the loss of federal funds in a program used in Puerto Rico.”
According to the director, the proposed consolidation with the DDEC and subsequent outsourcing of its functions would lead to Puerto Rico’s noncompliance with current agreements with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention under the National Violent Death Registration System, which is a federal competitive grant that SI recently won.
“We have the duty to alert this honorable committee to take corrective action and amend HB 1403 accordingly. Specifically, in accordance with Article 4.02 of Act 122-2017, HB 1403 must be amended, eliminating the entire chapter devoted to the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute,” Marazzi Santiago said.
The SI is an autonomous government entity with the task of coordinating the government’s statistics production service to ensure that the data collection and statistics systems, on which public policies are based, are complete, reliable and quickly accessible.
The institute has in its inventory, accessible through www.estadisticas.pr, about 300 statistical products. In addition, it is the custodian and provides access to more than 100 data sets through www.data.pr.gov and over 40 tables and more than 6,000 indicators via www.indicadores.pr.