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Media advisory: Statistics Canada releases independent review of release procedures for economic data

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July 21, 2011

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada released today the report of an independent third party review of an early release of economic data by Statistics Canada that was reported in the news media in December 2010, as well as a general review of the Agency’s data release procedures.

The review, conducted by the consulting firm KPMG, was launched after Statistics Canada confirmed that data, including key economic data, had been made available to secondary distributors of its public database (CANSIM) prior to official release time.

The review re-confirmed that the early release had occurred but was restricted to licensed CANSIM distributors who received information via an automated process that, unknown to management, was set to run 59 seconds in advance.

KPMG contacted a number of licensed distributors and concluded that it is unlikely that any data were actively released to their clients prior to the official release time.

The review further concluded that, when advised of the incident, Statistics Canada identified the cause of the early release and immediately made the necessary changes to ensure all data are released at the official release time.

KPMG reported that the early release of up to 59 seconds had been occurring for more than six years and that on two previous occasions allegations of information being released early had been made to Statistics Canada employees.  The review pointed to weaknesses in governance and processes around dissemination as the reason the situation had not previously been resolved.

The review made a number of recommendations that Statistics Canada has accepted and is taking steps to implement. A comprehensive and thorough review of the dissemination process is underway, with a focus on procedures for information technology, and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities.

The Agency’s executive committee will direct and monitor the implementation of the required actions to ensure the security of the dissemination process.

Statistics Canada takes this matter very seriously and is committed to ensuring that the information the agency delivers is made available to the public with consistency and transparency. 

The full report is available upon request.

For more information, contact Media Relations at 613-951-4636.

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