Can the fundamental principles of official statistics and the political process co-exist?

Hermann Habermann, Thomas A. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 1991, the Fundamental Principles have been a foundation of official statistics. In this paper we examine the interactions between them and a nation's political processes. In particular, we consider the extent that political processes militate against attainment of the fundamental principles. We examine the importance of institutional independence and examine how the political process either enables or militates against the attainment of the principles. After describing the relevant aspects of the United States federal statistical system we consider some examples where professional independence has been compromised or threatened. We use the recent controversy in the United States over the proposed addition of a question on citizenship to the decennial census to illustrate the challenges in holding to the Fundamental Principles. Finally, we consider extension of these issues internationally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalStatistical Journal of the IAOS
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • National statistical systems
  • fundamental principles
  • governance
  • independence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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