Section 4: Communicating with stakeholders

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The first chapters of this compendium examined (1) the key characteristics of an effective statistical system, (2) the fundamental management practices that a statistical agency should consider and implement, and (3) the continuous modernization and improvement of projects to maintain data quality and relevance. The final section will concentrate on strategies relating to survey respondents and data users: How do you inform them, communicate with them, engage them, and offer them diverse ways to access to data? How do you establish effective strategies that meet their needs and, at the same time, comply with privacy and confidentiality rules?

Before elaborating further on these strategies, it is important to remember that any statistical agency must make relations with survey respondents and data users a central priority. Without the contribution of survey respondents, there would be no viable results, and therefore, the mandate would not be fulfilled. Without the data user community, there would be neither purpose nor relevance to the statistical agency's mission.

Chapter 4.1 examines why a statistical agency should consider its website as the key to providing effective, relevant and timely access to its data. Drawn from Statistics Canada's experience, this chapter focuses on strategies that have been adopted to collect user feedback and guide website development toward a dissemination model based on free data, user-friendly navigation, and adoption of open-data principles.

Chapter 4.2 focuses on the foundations of effective external communication strategies to develop for the various data user communities. This chapter gives examples of how Statistics Canada informs the public of program results, conveys a positive image and continues to bolster its reputation for excellence. Finally, the chapter presents initiatives carried out by the agency—using Web 2.0 tools—to help generate interest and encourage individuals and businesses to participate in surveys.

Chapter 4.3 explains access to metadata and their significance in developing a common understanding and consistent management of terminology and key concepts for surveys and official statistics.

Chapter 4.4 is devoted to improving access to microdata by offering a continuum of varied services to a more specialized audience that is "savvy" in using and understanding data. Savvy audiences refer to researchers and policymakers in federal departments.

Chapter 4.5 highlights the importance for a statistical agency to continuously improve its relations with survey respondents, be they households or businesses. This chapter looks at a number of strategies developed by Statistics Canada to generate interest and encourage respondents to take part in surveys, particularly in social surveys.

Lastly, chapter 4.6 reiterates the importance for a statistical agency to consider privacy and confidentiality as fundamental to its activities. Unless the statistical agency thoroughly respects confidentiality, it will build neither credibility nor trust in the eyes of respondents and the public; consequently, it could easily tarnish its image and reputation. The chapter cites various strategies and mechanisms used by Statistics Canada to ensure confidentiality and privacy.

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