Unit punches "way out of its league"

07 December 2009

Lynn Woolfrey with Pali LehohlaUCT's Lynn Woolfrey, with Statistican - General Pali Lehohla.

DataFirst, the "very small" survey data archive and training facility in the Faculty of Commerce, was honoured by Statistics SA with an award in the Data Dissemination category on 23 November.

Statistics SA and DataFirst are involved in a US$370 000 project to support the accurate use of national statistics. Their work, the Data Quality Project, is funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation. It aims to support the quality and usability of Stats SA datasets for local researchers, especially those involved in measuring poverty, inequality and unemployment; and to build capacity in assessing data quality.

Acting Dean of Commerce Professor John Simpson said: "We are so proud of DataFirst, as it is a very small research unit that punches way out of its league. Achieving recognition from Stats SA shows that we are making a significant difference to evidence-based policymaking, both in South Africa and across the continent."

DataFirst's director, Matthew Welch, said: "Accurate data is necessary for drawing up and implementing effective government policy. Maintaining up-to-date, accurate information is also the only way a country can measure its progress in economic and social development. DataFirst keeps up to date with the best research in this field internationally. Through this project, this expertise is made available to foster the work of Stats SA for nation building."

DataFirst does similar work outside South Africa on a project of the International Household Survey Network's Accelerated Data Program (ADP), sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. DataFirst installs data management tools and trains staff at national statistics offices in African countries.

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