Designing systems for the co-production of public knowledge: considerations for national statistical systems

Derrick M. Anderson, Andrew Whitford

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    The functions of government are increasingly complex and information-driven. However, for many developing countries, the quality of information is poor and the consequences of that poor information are substantial. If the goal is to establish or advance effective systems of government–in terms of formulating or implementing public policies by laws or rules–we have to consider how the design process can help attain that goal through improved information, data, and evidence. National statistics are problems of governance, knowledge, and design. While governments are primary users of national statistical systems, national statistical capacity is jointly determined because without contributions from non-state actors, there is little hope of observing accurate data that expresses important social, economic, and natural phenomena in any state–but especially so in failed, transitioning or struggling states. This paper discusses several findings from research studies for those who design and implement systems that collect, disseminate, and interpret government statistics. These findings are derived from the literature on the co-production of public knowledge. The growth of complex, high-dimensional data, accompanied by calls for investment in “big data” technologies and methods, will change how we collect and interpret data in many countries. Yet, our most important data enterprises are built on a human infrastructure with prospects that are both limited and supported by social factors. Organizations themselves must expend resources to navigate a world in which data is growing at exponential rates. But organizations are constrained and enabled by broader aspects of society that go well beyond government’s role in collecting, processing, and disseminating statistical data. As we discuss, one notable example is the relative presence of general purpose information technologies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)79-89
    Number of pages11
    JournalPolicy Design and Practice
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2018


    • co-production
    • governance
    • Knowledge systems
    • technology attainment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations
    • Public Administration


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