Administrative data: Leveraging existing data sources for sustainable development

August, 2021

Fredy Rodríguez 
Oficial de Programa datos para el desarrollo sostenible

The data collected in different institutions are not only valuable for reporting their activities, but also for statistical production, since they reduce costs and promote inter-institutional partnerships to share data.

Statistical Offices promote the use of such data sources: acting as coordinators of the Statistical System in their countries, and generating mechanisms to determine the statistical potential of these records, as well as the quality standards they must meet, in order to  close information gaps in different areas, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What are administrative records?

Understanding the purpose and scope of administrative records will help differentiate them from other types of data sources. In the blog on the importance of administrative records for statistics, administrative records are defined as "information collected by government or private sector organizations as part of their ongoing operations. Examples include birth and death records, tax records, records on the flow of goods and people across borders, and data collected by satellites" (Statcan, 2019).

This definition is the basis for understanding that information collected can provide inputs for the construction of official statistics. To this end, initiatives have arisen, mainly from the statistical community, that seek to share good practices and guidelines aimed at strengthening administrative records.

Initiatives to leverage administrative records

For several years, efforts have been made to promote and strengthen administrative records, taking as an example the Nordic model, which encourages their use for conducting censuses and reducing surveys, and which has been implemented by countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In the Latin American and Caribbean region, lessons learned from European countries and other countries such as Canada have been implemented, making adaptations to the reality and the national context. Some of the initiatives with a regional or global scale are:

Population and real estate statistics project based on the use of official administrative records in the Andean Community, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as a regional public good, and coordinated by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) of Colombia.

Development HECRA, a tool for the evaluation of administrative records and possible improvements for statistical use.

The Collaborative on the Use of Administrative Data for Statistics is an initiative of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), aimed at strengthening the capacity of countries to use administrative data sources for statistical purposes.

How does Cepei promote administrative records?

Collaboration group for the use of administrative data in statistics. Cepei co-facilitates Task Team 3: Technical interoperability and linking, where we encourage the participation of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Peer-to-peer exchanges. We promote spaces for sharing knowledge among peers at the national, regional and global levels. An example of this is the LAC-Africa exchange on administrative records, with the participation of statistics offices, ministries and government agencies from 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries and 5 African countries.

Datarepública: our digital platform promotes the use of administrative records for data mapping and analysis. In Conecta we map datasets from administrative records; in Publica and Analiza we encourage research based on information sources such as administrative records.