Guidelines for National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS)


The Guidelines for National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) provide knowledge and landmarks for the NSDS preparation for the first strategic plan or for the update of an existing one. The NSDS guidelines help governments to design strategies, drawing lessons from statistical systems across the world. They are helpful in assessing the National Statistical System’s (NSS)   current capacity and setting goals for progress. They are helpful for identifying a suitable governance structure for the process of design and implementation of NSDS and are useful for government statisticians, policy makers and strategic planners to understand how statistics and data are important in all areas of government. The NSDS Guidelines 3.0 are the latest version produced in 2020.

What is new in the NSDS Guidelines 3.0

The year 2020 saw the 3rd major update of the NSDS Guidelines 2.0 since 2014. In this version, the NSDS Guidelines 3.0, a completely new layout of the website and a new way to structure and navigate the Guidelines through the restructured NSDS Lifecycle. The guidelines are introduced with the aim of increased user-friendliness as well as exchange of good practices.

The new NSDS Lifecycle is organized and can be navigated through three levels: the stages, the phases, and the steps, all moving sequentially in a circular flow. This structure makes them accessible to a range of readers. The use of links and info bubbles helps explain terminology to non-experts and also allow readers to delve deeper into topics. The NSDS Guidelines 3.0 are organised in manageable sections that the user can move between, rather than having one long pdf document. The guidelines bring together a range of resources in the top menu and the right-hand bar for ease access.

The NSDS Guidelines 3.0 also highlights Special Topics that are identified as important to integrate in the NSDS as a key entry point to develop the capacity of the National Statistical System with the aim to take into account all the aspects of the new data ecosystem. Suggested concrete actions are provided with reference to the relevant specific steps in the NSDS Lifecycle, to include the special topics among the priority considerations in the preparation of the NSDS. Learning from the covid-19 pandemic experience, a special topic on the development of a “Statistics Strategy for managing crises, emergencies and disasters data demand” was added in the new guidelines, among others.

The NSDS Guidelines update process

PARIS21 developed the first NSDS Guidelines in 2004. Based upon a decade of experience in almost one hundred countries, the NSDS guidelines have been revisited in order to enhance and adapt the tool based on assessments made and the views of users and producers within the changing development context. The NSDS guidelines 2.0 were officially launched at the PARIS21 Annual Meetings in 2014. 

Since then, the NSDS Guidelines are updated on an annual basis, based on experience and feedback from users in all continents, changes in the international agenda, and new approaches and innovations developed by practitioners. The aim is to create a living document that is updated on a continuous basis to keep abreast with the changing global, regional and national environment. To answer this evolving context, and in order to monitor the evolution of the NSDS Guidelines in an efficient and structured manner, the PARIS21 Secretariat has established an NSDS Guidelines Reference Group with experts from countries and organisations from all regions. The updates approved by the Reference Group are included in the website each year.
In 2020, based on the above procedures, the NSDS Guidelines 3.0 were produced.

What is NSDS?

The National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) is a planning approach for the strategy elaboration in order to develop capacity to produce, disseminate and mainstream the use of statistics. It is in line with a country’s national development plan and other international and regional data requirements and guided by the principles of inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

The NSDS is a framework, a process and a product built through the collective and coordinated work of the NSS. They are government owned strategies and are used for the benefit of the country.

A framework from which the strategic planning is outlined for the statistical development.

A process  following a results-based, stage-phase-step approach in designing a strategy. This helps in enabling collaboration and coordination between stakeholders in the national statistical system and development partners.

A product for statistical development providing a country with: A medium-term vision, Detailed and costed action plans, and Comprehensive advocacy tool


1. For the NSS

The National Statistical System(NSS) faces increasing data demands from the National Development Plan  in addition to regional and international agendas. This increase has created a data-ecosystem     transcending the NSS and expanding the number of data producers and users. The NSDS provides leverage to overcome these challenges


The NSDS embodies an overall strategic vision for the capacity development for the NSS in order to:

  • Respond to the national, regional, and international needs;
  • Rationalize the conduct of statistical activities and allocation of funds;
  • Coordinate all the stakeholders of the data ecosystem;
  • Prioritise efforts to address the challenges regarding data production, analysis and use;
  • Build on all past and existing activities and experiences;
  • Comply with the international standards including quality;
  • Serve as a framework for international and bilateral assistance;

The NSDS Guidelines will steer NSSs into successful design, implementation and monitoring of their NSDSs.

2. For policy makers

Policy makers need statistics for evidence-based decision-making. Indeed, official statistics provide a clear picture of the country’s strengths and challenges. The NSDS represents a tool in order to organise and coordinate the statistics value chain to prepare, monitor and evaluate a National Development Plan as well as other policies. The NSDS Guidelines can help them to understand the process.

3. For development partners

Bilateral and multilateral assistance organizations need comprehensive and clear information on the NSSs regarding their specific challenges, goals and budget in order to prioritize their funding and their technical support. The NSDS informs them on the priority areas for partnership and collaboration in capacity development and resource mobilization for official statistics.

These guidelines will help them capture the conduct of the process and the good practices to encourage. The NSDS Status Report can also provide them with useful information.

4. For other producers of the data ecosystem

Other data producers in the data ecosystem need better coordination in order to avoid duplications of work and contradictions in concepts and definitions. The new data producers underscore emerging issues in terms of new data sources (Big Data, Citizen-Generated Data, Geospatial data etc.), procedures and methods (privacy, ethics, standards) and skills. The NSDS responds to the data production ecosystem by offering a producer-producer dialogue. The process brings all stakeholders together and allows a better coordination and planning of the production itself as well as its underlying issues. 

These guidelines will point out how and when the data producers can participate to the NSDS formulation process.

5. For other data users

Other data users (citizens, civil society, academia and media) need official statistics for different purposes. On the one hand, the NSDS process constitutes a platform for them to voice their needs and concerns through a user-producer dialogue. On the other hand, the final NSDS contains all the information on new and improved data as well as statistical products and services to be expected. These guidelines will help them understand this process.


Based on country experiences in recent decades, the NSDS process from preparation, consultation, and validation to approval and endorsement of the NSDS strategic framework and action plans should take on average up to 6 months in Small Island developing states, 6-12 months in Asia, and 6-18 months in Africa.

The timeline for the preparation of the NSDS varies across countries and regions. It depends on management and technical capacity, experience and commitment of the national statistics office to coordinate and motivate stakeholder participation and support, and the current policy plan within the development outlook of the country. 


More information on existing NSDSs:

  • NSDS Status report
  • SDG 17.8.3 is an indicator collected by PARIS21 and measuring the number of countries with a national statistical plan that is fully funded and under implementation, by source of funding.
  • A consolidated list of NSDS examples