Experts appointed to probe faking of census data
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Three external experts will join a government task force investigating allegations of widespread data fabrication by census field officers.
The inquiry panel, chaired by the Commissioner for Census and Statistics Lily Ou-yang, will complete its probe in six weeks and make recommendations for improvement, it was announced yesterday.
The team will look into the authenticity of data collected by field officers and examine the existing quality assurance systems in data collection.
It will then make recommendations for improvement to the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung.
The panel will include Professor Chan Ngai-hang, a statistics scholar at Chinese University; Tse kam-keung, former Oxfam Hong Kong chairman; Vincent Kwan of Hang Seng Indexes Company; and a government economist.
Both Chan and Tse are serving members of the government's Statistics Advisory Board, while Kwan is a former member.
A government spokesman said: "The task force comprises an academic, a seasoned executive, and an expert in compiling financial indexes. It will ensure an impartial and professional investigation."
Some former census officers have claimed it was almost a department norm to make up data or skip questions in interviews in order to finish a job more quickly, partly because of their heavy workload.
Others said the practice had been widespread for 20 years.
A spokesman for the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau yesterday would not reveal how far back the task force would trace the issue, or when the panel would start working.
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said a department probe would not go far enough, and asked the Independent Commission Against Corruption to launch an investigation.
"The allegations have pointed to the possible breach of the offence of misconduct in public office. The census department task force cannot deal with it," said Lau. "The ICAC is the proper agency to handle it."