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American Statistical Association: Don’t dismantle Puerto Rico Statistics Institute

By on January 26, 2018

SAN JUAN – The American Statistical Association (ASA) released a petition Thursday entitled, “Put the facts first: Preserve the autonomy and impartiality of the PR Institute of Statistics,” in which it makes a call to both Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and members of the Legislature to desist from transferring the functions of the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute to the Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) to eventually outsource all statistical functions of the Government of Puerto Rico.

The ASA petition makes specific reference to Reorganization Plan 1 and Senate Bill 809, which was published Wednesday and signed by five scientists from such entities as Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Yale University.

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In addition, the petition emphasizes that this measure “would weaken PRIS independence and at least partially dismantle it. Because strong, transparent, and impartial statistical data are critical for the functioning of Puerto Rico and for sound decision-making in all sectors of society.”

Dr. Mario Marazzi, executive director of the Statistics Institute of Puerto Rico (Courtesy photo)

To this end, the executive director of the Statistics Institute, Dr. Mario Marazzi, insisted on the need for official statistics to be prepared by independent government entities so they can perform their functions completely detached from political influences, something he said is acknowledged worldwide.

“The Government of Puerto Rico has a long history of producing, disclosing and presenting tampered, outdated, misinterpreted, incomplete statistics, and then access to sources of information is not provided to verify the information, neither by citizens nor legislators. The reality is statistics are a serious subject, and it is time for our government to take them seriously, particularly if it wants to address its own fiscal problem,” Marazzi said in a written statement.

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Marazzi assured there is no way the proposed reorganization of the Statistics Institute, as a program within DDEC or outsourced by it, solves the serious problem of reliability and credibility that the Government of Puerto Rico has with its statistics.

“We are grateful for the deed of the American Statistical Association to create a vehicle that allows data users to express themselves publicly about the proposed reorganization,” Marazzi said.

The Puerto Rico Statistics Institute 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 and reliable, and with fast and universal access. The Institute has in its inventory, accessible via www.estadisticas.pr, more than 300 statistical products. In addition, it is 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 on www.indicadores.pr.

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