Final Day of Resources & Development Conference Explores Issues Regarding Limited Data Sharing, Minimal Observance of Operating Procedures

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Final Day of Resources & Development Conference Explores Issues Regarding Limited Data Sharing, Minimal Observance of Operating Procedures

 

WENO, Chuuk—On January 28th, 2022, the fifth and final day of the 2nd Resources & Development Conference was held. Focusing exclusively on the Division of Statistics, the day’s discussions explored in detail the ways and means that data is contemporaneously gathered in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), how that data is (or is not) shared, and the relationship between the issues affecting data management and its influence on decision-making.

 

The session began with a discussion on major accomplishments for the Division of Statistics, which included the completion of the 2020-2024 FSM Strategy for the Development of Statistics and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing, the latter of which was described as a “game-changer” on the premise that it allowed staff to conduct surveys with fewer persons and significantly less time focused on data entry.

 

Regarding the former, it was described that the Strategy for the Development of Statistics proposes to amend the 1998 FSM Statistics Act so as to establish and sustain closer links between statistics and policy, to strengthen the production and dissemination of State statistics, and strengthen data management and information management, among other objectives.

 

Regarding the latter, it was described that Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing is being used to execute the 2022 FSM Census of Population & Housing, which intends to occur during the month of June 2022. Supported by $1,500,000 of funding, the Census will hire an estimated five hundred (500) persons and receive technical and/or financial or programmatic support from the Pacific Community, the World Bank, and the United Nations.

 

Other ongoing projects include the 2022-2023 Household Income & Expenditure Survey, which is presently in its preparation phase and seeks to “rebase the consumer price index”, and the 2022 National Social Indicators Survey, which seeks to assess the health and nutritional status of women and children across the FSM.

 

It was described that there remains ongoing work towards a Quarantine Management System, which would seek to standardize information on the importation and exportation of plants, animals, and other quarantinable things.

 

Pending projects for the Division of Statistics include the development of a National Indicators Framework, which would seek to consolidate FSM-developed indicators with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to seeking a friendly and informative user experience (such as by being online accessible).

 

Challenges and issues were discussed at length, and are broadly consistent with citizens’ intuition that data sharing is severely limited (and further that this is true across the spectrum, from National to State, State to National, and between National agencies and State agencies, including dissemination to the public). Limited staffing, relatively few resources, and perceived political disinterest in obtaining quality data were also described as challenges facing the Division and its four field offices across the FSM.

 

The relevant presentation on the Division of Statistics may be found here: https://gov.fm/files/RD_Conference_-_StatsDiv_280122.pdf

 

In the breakout sessions that followed, participants were asked the following questions: “What could you, as data providers, do to improve data/information sharing and readiness?”; “What capacity building initiatives can the Statistics Division provide to data providers to improve information sharing and data readiness?”; “Are there any services that you would like the Statistics Division to provide you with, aside from those presented, that will benefit you specifically?”; and “Should domestic tourist movement be captured via Customs/Immigration/Quarantine systems?”

 

There was common agreement that improved communications amongst Government officials would be helpful, to include Memoranda of Understanding where necessary, and possibly the creation of online chatrooms. Where websites do not exist, it was advised, then they should be created. There was common agreement that dedicated personnel, equipped with the appropriate training, should be employed for data management purposes, if not already. There was broadly common agreement that domestic tourism data should be tracked, particularly if doing so is relatively easy to do (though there was not necessarily prolonged discussion as to the difficulty of implementing such an initiative).

 

After the conclusion of the day’s discussions, the Secretary of Resources & Development, the Honorable Elina Akinaga, and her State counterparts and/or their representatives, attended a signing ceremony wherein the FSM National Government and States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, confirmed their agreement on the discussions that took place at the 2nd Resources & Development Conference, and a uniformed approach for moving ahead.

 

The (unsigned version) of the outcomes document may be found here: https://gov.fm/files/RD_Conference_Recommendations_unsigned.pdf

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