Public Statistics Must Be Available to the Public

picture: Irargerich

The National Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) is financed by tax-payers money and it should extend the range of publicly available statistical data:

– The users of data in Poland do not have a full and free access to the online versions of all the statistical yearbooks. However, in more than 70 per cent of the EU and EFTA countries which publish yearbooks it is possible to download a national statistical yearbook free of charge from the website. In Poland only selected pages are available for free.

Data on particular local public entities (e.g. about employment or assets value), which should be in principle publicly available, become a secret once it enters the National Statistical Office. You can ask for the data in local city or regional councils or directly in public entities but you cannot get the access to the data in the place which collects information from the whole country.

Data collected by GUS and not available on the website is often sold to the users although it’s collection is funded by the public (i.e. tax-payers’) money. You may also be charged if you ask for data converted into a more user-friendly format. Moreover, the pricing mechanism is arbitrary and you cannot find a price-list for additional services.

The National Statistical Office website is unclear and chaotic. It is dominated by PDFs and data is fragmented into many bulletins and separate documents. It is often difficult to find data in a form of spreadsheets (e.g. Excel or similar) or databases files which are much easier to process, analyse, and then present to the public in a more accessible way.

picture: Irargerich

All these problems with the access to the public statistics in Poland lead to a paradoxical situation in which it is often much easier to find useful data about our country in the Eurostat database instead of the National Statistical Office website.

Marek Tatala