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The OECD created a protected digital workspace to provide experts with the possibility to discuss problems and solutions or seek advice in a simple and pragmatic way. The workspace is a collaborative effort with logistics being managed by the OECD Secretariat, and participation of several international organizations, among which the United Nations (UN), the United National Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), PARIS21 and others.
The COVID-19 crisis has significant impact on the compilation and dissemination of official statistics: lockdowns in many countries and teleworking have affected face-to-face surveys of households, price collection, enterprise surveys to name just a few areas of source data. Methodological and conceptual questions may arise in national accounts, balance of payments, government statistics or business statistics. At the same time, there is huge user demand for early estimates to enable assessment of the economic and social impact of the crisis. In trying to deal with these issues at the national level, many national experts have voiced the need to exchange practices and experiences at the international level.
The OECD is hosting a digital workspace to allow experts from all national statistical offices and central banks, to exchange information and ideas in a simple, protected and pragmatic way, for instance on innovative approaches to counter the impact of missing source data; short-cuts to approximate economic and societal developments; methodological and conceptual problems; (new) ways of addressing user demands; impact on the timeliness of statistics, etc.
The digital workspace is organised as a concerted effort of relevant international organisations including the OECD, the UNSD, UN-ECE, the Bank for International Settlements, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organization and PARIS21. The following, non-exhaustive, list of official statistics has been included in the workspace:
The format of the digital workspace is simple and flexible to avoid any additional burden on national statistical agencies. For example, no standardised information will be requested via questionnaires, etc., and the exchanges will be demand-driven. The workspace is accessible only to those registered from national statistical agencies and relevant international organisations, thus providing a secure environment for statisticians to conduct discussions in an open and transparent way. The workspace will be open for registration to all countries worldwide.
For each theme, discussions on the workspace will be moderated by one or several moderators. The role of moderators will mainly consist of following the discussions, looking for common issues which may require further investigation and advice, finding ways to address these issues and liaising with relevant expert groups or committees.