Important statistical information is processed in some 40 federal offices and in other corporate entities and statistics institutions subject to the Federal Statistics Act such as the Swiss National Bank or the Swiss Farmers' Union. This information is used, in particular, for planning and management purposes in important policy areas. In addition, the majority of cantons and several larger towns have at their disposal regional statistics offices.
Due to the decentralised structure of this system, coordination is of the utmost importance. As the competence centre for official statistics, the FSO is responsible for this coordination at federal level. It heads and oversees the relevant committees.
All levels of the political structure – the Confederation, the cantons and the communes – are represented in these committees, allowing them to coordinate their statistics activities.
The producers of federal statistics are grouped together in Fedestat (in French), which comprises some 40 members representing the federal offices with their own statistical production as well as most of the organisations subject to the Federal Statistics Act.
Regiostat (in French) ensures the coordination of statistical works between the Confederation and the regions (cantons and communes). The approximately 40 members of this committee include the cantonal statistical offices, the statistical services of cantons with no statistical office and the statistical services of the larger towns.
The instruments of federal statistics
The multi-annual programme for statistics
In accordance with the Federal Statistics Act, the multi-annual programme must be created for each legislative period and is the principal instrument in the planning of official statistics. It determines the strategic and operative goals for each legislative period. The objectives and priorities are presented in the multi-annual programme in such a way as to place the decisions made in the committees for individual statistical areas within the context of the whole statistics system.
Cooperation and service agreements
The FSO cooperation and service agreements are an important form of cooperation with the government offices concerned, for example with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, the Swiss Farmers' Union, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the federal offices of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. (For example the Framework Agreement among the FSO, ARE, FEDRO, FOEHN, FOT, FOCA and SFOE federal offices in the area of mobility and transport statistics). These agreements govern the modalities of the cooperation.
Classifications and international standards
The statistical standards developed at international level (UNO, OECD, EU) as well as the development and use of indicators are another instrument for the harmonisation of federal statistics. Generally, the indicators are usually developed in consultation with the various subject areas and Offices as well as with experts (groups).