Statistics Netherlands is responsible for collecting and processing data in order to publish statistics to be used in practice, by policymakers and for scientific research. In addition to its responsibility for (official) national statistics, Statistics Netherlands also has the task of producing European (community) statistics. The legal basis for Statistics Netherlands and its work is the Act of 20 November 2003 last amended by the Act of 15 December 2004 governing the central bureau of statistics (Statistics Netherlands).
The information Statistics Netherlands publishes incorporates a multitude of societal aspects, from macro-economic indicators such as economic growth and consumer prices, to the incomes of individual people and households. Statistics Netherlands’ statistical programmes (the long-term statistical programme and the annual work programme) are set by the Central Commission for Statistics. This is an independent commission that watches over the independence, impartiality, relevance, quality and continuity of the statistical programme. The Director-General decides autonomously which methods to use to make these statistics, and whether or not to publish results.
Statistics Netherlands aims to reduce the administrative burden for companies and the public as much as possible. To this end it uses existing administrative registrations of both government and government-funded organisations. The information from these files is supplied to Statistics Netherlands free of charge. Only if they do not contain sufficient information, Statistics Netherlands is allowed to conduct supplementary surveys among companies and private persons. Companies are usually obliged by law to supply information to Statistics Netherlands and can be forced to cooperate under certain circumstances; Statistics Netherlands may use sanctions such as administrative fines. For its part Statistics Netherlands is obliged to keep all individual data confidential. As an exception data sharing with Eurostat, NSIs in EU member states, Dutch Central Bank and academic researches is allowed under certain restructures.
On 3 January 2004, Statistics Netherlands became an autonomous agency with legal personality. There is no longer a hierarchical relationship between the Minister of Economic Affairs and the organisation. However, the minister is responsible for setting up and maintaining a system for the provision of government statistical information; in other words the minister is politically responsible for legislation and budget, for the creation of conditions for an independent and public production of high quality and reliable statistics. The costs of tasks and activities undertaken to put this legislation into practice are accountable to the government’s budget.