After Mongolia was affected by the 2008 global financial crisis and extremely severe winters, the economic reforms and the country’s growth resumed. The government of Mongolia developed a National Development Strategy covering an ambitious development agenda for the country with six main priorities. Implementation of this agenda was data and information intensive, and Mongolia needed to strengthen its statistical system in order to monitor progress towards these objectives.
Since Mongolia’s transition to a market-based economy, the country’s national statistical system has undergone substantial transformation, from service structured to meet the needs of a planned economy to one reflecting the needs of the developing market economy. The National Statistical Office (NSO) was reorganized and became an independent agency under the Parliament authority.
Building on the World Bank’s previous experience working with the NSO and its substantial experience in assisting other countries in developing their statistical capacity, the government of Mongolia requested the World Bank for support to strengthen the national statistical system and implement the National Statistical Master Plan. Following this request, the Strengthening of the National Statistics System of Mongolia (MONSTAT) project was developed to enable the national statistical system to provide relevant, reliable, and timely data for evidence-based policy making.
This objective was to be achieved by improving policy, regulatory, and institutional frameworks and strengthening the statistical registers and standards. The project also aimed to upgrade staff skills, as well as improve survey and data collection programs and methodologies using this new infrastructure and best international practices. Lastly, equipment and physical infrastructure to support the implementation of the wide array of reforms implemented under the project was provided.
The project was implemented through twinning partnerships with the Consortium of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis) and Statistics Korea (KoStat) ensuring easy access to expertise, sustainable relations between experts and long-term collaboration between peer organizations long after the project ended.
- Statistical data user satisfaction rate jumped from 47% at the start of project implementation to 71%, as documented by the final user satisfaction survey, conducted in October 2014.
- Statistical products became easily accessible. Various statistical data dissemination systems were developed and introduced under the project such as the public website www.1212.mn, smart phones and tablet applications (MONSTAT and EzSTAT), thematic brochures, pocket-sized books, monthly infographics and a hotline service for statistical inquiries, boosting access and the scope of data for policy making and monitoring, as well as increasing awareness of the importance of statistical data.
- Internationally-accepted standards and classifications were introduced leading to higher quality data and better coverage. The project introduced data quality management based on EU quality management practices, and developed data quality reports for some statistical areas. The sampling design for household-based surveys was improved resulting in better poverty measurement. A business register system was created and enriched. Consequently, the project helped improve the verification and quality of 14 surveys. An IMF mission concluded that the NSO has met almost all technical requirements to enter the Special Data Dissemination Standard, an internationally accepted statistical standard.
- NSO improved inter-agency coordination for data collection and set up a customer management system. The Center for Information, Training and Advocacy (CITA) was established in 2013 and extended training to line ministries and other government agencies and data users. Customers’ satisfaction survey is conducted once in two years with all reports placed on the NSO website.
- Human resource capacity upgraded with a newly established NSO department for policy implementation and coordination responsible for strengthening local offices. In total, under the project 4,647 staff received in-country training, while 406 staff were trained in EU countries. The NSO is now recognized internationally as a member of UN Statistical Commission and expert group of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. NSO Mongolia is a co-chair of UB City Group for economies rich in natural resources. Currently, the NSO started hosting national statistical offices from other countries to share knowledge and best practices.
- Statistical infrastructure was developed with a comprehensive business register database and management system. Four international classifications and 11 methodologies were developed and applied, including ISIC 4.0 and SNA 2008. A standard master questionnaire was developed and used for surveys; 14 surveys (SNA, CPI, NOE, HSES, Agriculture census, Establishment census etc.) were conducted based on international standards, and results were disseminated.
- IT system for data management and dissemination with high security was installed to operate the national statistical system. All staff at NSO and regional offices have workstations with direct access to databases for tabulation and analysis. Tablets are used for data collection, which makes agency operations cost-efficient.