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Note for Professional Ethics - PE By G S Arun

  • Professional Ethics - PE
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Contents Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 1 Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Why an ethical code for statistical professionals? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Who are statistical professionals? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Who are customers?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4 What is professional ethics? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5 What are the sources of ethical problems?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Law and ethics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 5 5 5 5 6 6 2 Obligations to society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 2.1 Main principles of official statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 2.2 Impartial statistics for the benefit of society. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2.3 Statistics must be published. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2.4 Quality and reliability are crucial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2.5 Official statistics must be relevant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 2.6 Good practice on information management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 3 Obligations to respondents and to the individuals and communities described in statistics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 3.1 Data collection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 3.2 Linking data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 3.3 Publishing data and other delivery to end users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 3.4 Release of unit-level data. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 4 Obligations to customers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1 High standards of customer service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2 Data protection may prevent an assignment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3 Customer rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 12 12 12 5 Obligations to funders and employer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 5.1 Responsibility for performance, professional competence and quality . . . . . . . 13 5.2 Responsibility for corporate image and business secrets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Appendix 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Appendix 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Appendix 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Statistics Finland  3

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Foreword Reliable statistics are based on the conventional values of official statistics, reliability, impartiality, independence and objectivity. Professional ethics are considered especially important in the statistical sector. Compliance with the principles of statistical ethics is the fundamental requirement for the activity of statistical authorities. Questions of ethics have attracted growing attention in recent years primarily because of the changes that have happened not only in people’s values and attitudes, but also in the environment in which companies and organisations go about their daily business. Many professions, business organisations and private companies have compiled their ethical principles into codes of conduct. Increasing attention has been given to the principles of statistical ethics in recent years and the key ethical principles have been raised both nationally and in the European Union to the level of legislation. Statistics Finland’s first version of the Code of Professional Conduct was compiled in 1993 on the basis of the Declaration on Professional Ethics adopted by the International Statistical Institute ISI in 1985. The Declaration of the ISI is intended particularly for statistical professionals and researchers. The volume at hand is the third revised edition of the handbook published in 1993. The most important changes include those following from the basic principles of the official UN statistics adopted in 1994 and revised in 2013, Finland’s membership of the European Union, and changes in national legislation, and recommendation issued by the European Commission in 2005 on the independence, integrity and accountability of the national and Community statistical authorities with minor amendments made to them in 2011. The basic principles of official UN statistics are mainly instructions intended for the activity of institutions, the European Statistics Code of Practice is a general set of instructions for both individual professionals and institutions. Statisticians have obligations to all individuals and communities described in statistics, to customers, funders and society at large. When compiling statistics attention has to be paid to the different end uses of statistics, questions of privacy and data protection, and the response burden on data suppliers. Stiffening competition in the information markets and in research is also throwing up new ethical problems. Ethical principles must be taken into account in selections made in work. This handbook is intended for Statistics Finland employees, customers and stakeholders. Where applicable, it is also recommended for people working in other organisations engaged in the production of statistics. Director General Marjo Bruun 4  Statistics Finland

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1 Introduction 1.1 Why an ethical code for statistical professionals? This is a handbook on the professional ethics of Statistics Finland employees. This handbook is intended for Statistics Finland but its principles can be applied generally in the field of statistics. These ethical principles should be useful not only to people working in this field, but also to customers and other agency stakeholders. In addition, the handbook provides useful material for the development and application of legislation and operation. The purpose of the Guidelines is to explain the general principles governing Statistics Finland’s operation and to help resolve ethical problems. This handbook can be consulted when in search of acceptable solutions to emerging ethical problems. With set answers to at least some ethical problems, the standard of services provided by Statistics Finland will improve. Furthermore, it is hoped that the handbook will strengthen the confidence of the general public, customers and data providers in statistics and in the people who compile them. The agency has the Committee on Statistical Ethics that helps resolve ethical problems. Statistics Finland’s departments may consult the Committee to request its opinion on how problematic cases should be resolved. The ethical values of statistical professionals are international. Finland’s membership of the European Union has meant that international contacts and exchange are now an integral part of Statistics Finland’s everyday operation. The major principles of professional ethics in the statistical sector also lie at the heart of EU statistics. Proper implementation of these principles requires that there is good knowledge and understanding of them at the national level as well, and that they are adhered to in practice. It is also important that everyone involved in this international collaboration is familiar with the principles of professional ethics in the statistical sector and contributes to their implementations. 1.2 Who are statistical professionals? Statistical professionals are different occupational groups by whose co-operation Statistics Finland compiles statistics describing social conditions for the use of customers. The purpose of this handbook is to provide assistance and guidance to all these groups in situations where questions arise about proper procedure. 1.3 Who are customers? All users of Statistics Finland’s services are agency customers. Customers may come into contact with the agency either indirectly by purchasing Statistics Finland publications or other products, reading its releases or using other media, Internet services or databases; or directly by attending negotiations, contacting the agency by phone to request information, commissioning special surveys or visiting the Library of Statistics. Colleagues or producers of statistics may also be customers. 1.4 What is professional ethics? The word ‘ethics’ comes from the Greek ‘ethos’, which means making a distinction between what is good and what is bad. Ethics thus refers to good, acceptable conduct which promotes the welfare of individuals and society at large. A profession is a body of knowledge and practical skills. Professionals exercise certain rights and powers. This means that professionals enjoy a certain measure of autonomy in relation to society’s decision-making mechanisms. Professionals can make decisions within their respective spheres of expertise without always being bound to decisions by others. The rights and powers vested in a profession need to be counterbalanced by certain duties and responsibilities. Professional ethics define rights, powers, duties and responsibilities with a view to creating as coherent a structure as possible. Different professional groups have their own professional ethics. These are determined by their respective objectives that grow up out of their value systems and that may have to do with society, government authorities, business life or individual people. The statistician’s value-objective is to provide a comprehensive, unbiased and reliable picture of society, respecting the right of the sources of information to privacy and data protection and making sure all customers receive equal treatment. Statistics Finland  5

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1.5 What are the sources of ethical problems? The provision of data for statistics must always be guaranteed, for without them it is not possible to compile reliable statistics. Awareness of data protection has grown among individuals and corporations. Trust in statistics and maintaining the confidence of data providers are required for obtaining reliable basic data. Statistics Finland’s operating environment is changing. New ethical problems are emerging and old ethical problems are resurfacing from time to time. Statistics Finland has in its possession interesting information materials. The rapid advances in information technology and easier transfer of data have also given rise to increasing calls for improved availability of Statistics Finland’s materials. The requirements of cost-efficiency may also be at variance with traditional ethical principles. Maintenance of Statistics Finland’s service standards requires consideration between different quality factors, such as reliability and rapidity. The market demand is not necessarily focused on areas that are important to such factors as the continuity of statistics. The growing role of market forces has also brought insider regulations into statistics. Over the past few years, it has become customary in both Finland and the EU to bind monitoring of political decisions to concrete statistical figures, such as statistics describing public sector deficit and employment and unemployment. It is a challenge for a statistical office to retain its impartiality and independence in at times strongly politicised discussion around the results of statistics. The ever greater complexity of modern society places new demands upon the statistical employee or accentuates old ones. It is important to get across the message of statistics in simpler and more graphic ways, but also as accurately as possible. 6  Statistics Finland Statistics Finland is frequently in the public eye and people are quite familiar with the agency. With the ever higher level of education and the continuing growth of information flows, people today are more and more critical. The same goes for the mass media. This has made the public image of organisations increasingly important and emphasised the importance of having clear ethical rules. 1.6 Law and ethics Ethical principles are important to both the preparation and application of legislation. Ethical principles have often been incorporated into legislation. In some countries statistical legislation includes such ethical principles as impartiality and scientific independence. Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on European statistics lays down the most important ethical principles of official statistics in the Community. The requirement for professional independence is laid down in Finland's Statistics Act and in addition, the Statistics Act prescribes that good statistical practice must be observed in the handling and processing of data and information, following the international recommendations and procedures generally observed in the statistical sector. This refers specifically to the ethical principles of official statistics. However, ethical principles are generally more comprehensive in their coverage than legislation; ethics is often stricter than the law. Breaking the law is obviously not ethically acceptable, but sometimes strict abidance by the law may be unethical. Legislation may be complemented by ethical principles. In statistics production this is done, for instance, in the case of release of information. The law allows for discretionary powers in the application of which ethical principles play a key part.

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