The Handbook is about national statistical offices: government departments of varying status, created in order to compile, interpret and make public official statistics. Such offices come in all sizes and many different shapes. Some are general in the sense that they compile statistics on all that must be known about economic and social processes in a country. Others are very specialized: they compile statistics only on transport, banking or agriculture. Some have high visibility and have their identity sharply defined by statute. Others are nested within other organizations and were created chiefly to inform the governing body of the parent organization. However, except in size, scale of operations and scope, statistical offices do not differ that much from each other in terms of their main function and expected behaviour, nor in terms of the rules that apply to them. They all process raw data, convert them into statistics, apply objective standards to their operations and make it a condition of survival to be impartial, neutral and objective.
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