The Open Data Inventory is designed to evaluate the coverage and openness of data published on NSO websites. While some countries have more than 100 offices and agencies that produce official government statistics, we only consider data that can be found on the NSO website or for which the NSO website provides a direct link. Currently, the most accessible data for many countries are available only on the websites and in the databanks of international organizations. This should not be the case. Governments and their statistical offices are the source of much of the data that appear in international databases and should provide open and timely access to these data.
Traditionally NSOs have disseminated data through yearbooks, abstracts, and paper publications. However, with the rapidly expanding growth of the Internet in every part of the world, all but six countries have established websites for their NSOs. By examining the content of NSO websites, we are able to observe what is available to a typical user of NSO data without placing an administrative burden on government agencies by asking them to respond to questionnaires or other interrogatives.
The Open Data Inventory focuses on what we call “macrodata.” By this we mean indicators that have been aggregated above the unit record level. Microdata — survey responses and administrative records — are the ultimate source for most macrodata. If proper privacy measures are put in place, microdata should also be released by governments as open data. However macrodata are the final products of the national statistical system that are used to monitor development trends and guide public and private decision making. The breadth of topics covered in the official statistics provided by NSOs and their adherence to standards for open access are therefore relevant measures of the functioning of national statistical systems.