Cepei at the United Nations World Data Forum: National experiences on the use of admin data

The United Nations ‘World Data Forum’, celebrated from 19 to 21 October brought together over 5,000 data experts from more than 100 countries, to share innovative experiences and promote the use of data for sustainable development. This year, the event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was a good opportunity to exemplify collaborative actions being carried out between the data and statistics communities, to make timely decisions regarding the development of public policies and health care. 

Within the framework of the Forum, Cepei, in a session co-hosted together with the Global Partnership (GSPDD), shared the results of a survey carried out to Latin American and African countries, with the purpose of identifying how they are using administrative data as a complement to statistical information. Admin data provides long-term solutions to the most urgent needs of the territories, to comply with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

Countries, as well as various governmental, academic and productive sectors, are fundamental when it comes to knowledge exchange for statistical purposes, contributing  to implement efficient solutions to close social, environmental and inequality gaps. 




Administrative records are the routine data collected by governments and service providers in the course of their day-to-day business. Buried in these bureaucratic records is a tremendous opportunity to extract insights that are timelier and more granular than other traditional data sources. Administrative data can also be more cost-effective and sustainable because they are part of an existing and recurrent business process rather than stand-alone data collection exercises, which can cost millions of dollars.

Given the new COVID-19 reality, administrative records take on a greater weight by allowing countries not only to monitor the spread of the virus but also to identify the most vulnerable groups, their needs, and prioritize resources.

This session presented strategies, actions and partnerships that countries have developed for the use of administrative records, in response to COVID-19. It featured examples from three countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.




During the event, Fredy Rodríguez, Data Coordinator of Cepei, stated that “the use of administrative records for statistical purposes provides real time inputs that lead to more and better solutions. Today more than ever, it is necessary to strengthen the capacities of the African and Latin American statistical systems”.

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In order to better understand the production and use of data in Africa and Latin America, a 12 questions survey was conducted, focusing on four areas: 1) Data collection, 2) Data transfer between government, 3) Successes and challenges in the production and use of administrative records, and 4) Lessons learned and expectations.

The results showed that:

It is necessary to strengthen administrative data to address social issues such as migration, civil registries, education, among others.

Peer-to-peer knowledge exchanges between National Statistical Offices (NSOs), ministries and other actors is essential to learn about first-hand opportunities that can lead to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The use of administrative records for statistical purposes provides real time inputs that lead to more and better solutions”.

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The use of administrative records for statistical purposes provides inputs in real time that lead to more and better solutions for countries.

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