Affiliations: Statistician-General, Statistics South Africa. E-mail:
Abstract: The 1990s introduced significant changes in the world of statistics.
In particular, the changing political landscape, together with rapid
technological advances, placed demands on statistical systems in ways that had
not been witnessed before. These changes have continued, and will continue to
influence statistical development well beyond the current decade. The key challenge facing official statistics will involve a change
in focus, from development of systems of national statistics (currently
occupying statistical leaders) to the introduction of national statistics
systems (the future). The success or failure of this change in focus will
measure the ability of statisticians to adapt to a new world order. If we
succeed, we may ensure extension of the life of statisticians as useful and
important beings in the new world of ideas and measurement. This will, however,
require courage, innovation and quality in statistical leadership.