Puerto Rico’s Statistics Institute Saved for Now

A spirited campaign that united statisticians, scientists, and politicians across the United States and beyond appears to have resonated with Puerto Rico’s legislature. A component of a bill to authorize an extensive government reorganization plan that would have dismantled the commonwealth’s independent statistics institute and devolved the gathering of government statistics to the Department of Economic Development and Commerce was removed in final deliberations Saturday. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

It is not clear whether this means the future of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) is secure; the legislature said it would address issues about the institute in future legislation. Nevertheless, supporters of PRIS welcomed Saturday’s last-minute decision.

“I commend the Puerto Rico legislature for maintaining the independence of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) in House bill 1403,” said Lisa LaVange, president of the American Statistical Association, which played an instrumental role in a multifaceted and broad campaign to save PRIS.

“Having independent, strong, and transparent statistics will serve the health, well-being, and economy of Puerto Rico and its people for decades to come,” said LaVange. “The uncertainty in the number of deaths due to the devastating 2017 hurricanes helped make this point and it is now imperative that PRIS be funded to function at full capacity.”

LaVange continued, “We especially thank Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez Núñez—along with the conference committee—for their leadership and wisdom in preserving PRIS.”

The following ASA news updates track the story:

June 27, 2018:  Down to the Wire on Future of Puerto Rico’s Statistics Institute

May 8, 2018:  47 Scientific Organizations Urge Puerto Rico to Preserve Independent Statistical Institute

March 8, 2018:  Efforts to Dismantle Puerto Rico Statistics Agency Resume

February 26, 2018:  Efforts to Dismantle Puerto Rico Statistics Agency Paused, Challenges Remain

February 1, 2018:  Puerto Rico Government Considers Eliminating Statistical Agency