FPS Economy: Belgium’s Economic Data Goes Online
Client:Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy
- Create a system for accessing economic data that would enable the efficient production, delivery and use of strategic economic information
- Install a business intelligence system that draws on all National Institute of Statistics data sources and accesses other federal databases.
- An integrated data warehouse solution that enables automated paperless data input and output
- Presents economic data directly to end users through a dynamic Internet portal
Well into the 21st century, the Belgian government found some of its operations resembling something from the turn of the prior century. So the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, then known as the Belgian Ministry of Economics, set its sights on evolving into a more modern organization, one focused on its customers — the country’s citizens and businesses that provide and request economic and demographic data for decision-making support. With our help, and with the ultimate goal of stimulating the Belgian economy, FPS Economy fulfilled its vision with the rollout of a new, integrated data warehouse that provides interactive, near real-time data to its customers.
A culture change
Driving FPS Economy’s need for a new approach was a growing aversion to paper and manual surveys, increasing demands by citizens and businesses for integrated online output, shrinking budgets, increasingly complex international regulations, and diminishing resources — the organization expects 30 percent of its staff to retire in the next five years. FPS Economy also wanted to position itself as a key provider of statistical economic data in Belgian and EU environments, among competitors such as the National Bank of Belgium, Belgium’s National Planning Department, regional statistical departments, and Eurostat, which provides statistical information at the European level. This meant moving from a culture and structure of separate activities, or silos, to an entirely new management approach that would enable the efficient production and use of information and statistics to understand, regulate and stimulate Belgium’s economy.
Business intelligence, data warehousing expertise
After CSC performed a feasibility study, FPS Economy chose an SAS business intelligence platform to support the NIS data warehouse. A joint CSC and FPS Economy IT team began to implement the new solution. As part of the assignment, we also began transferring to both FPS Economy business and IT users the project and change management know-how, which would enable them to focus on improving analytical processes and data architecture rather than on simply managing data collection and delivery. The FPS Economy’s objectives were to standardize IT tools and methodologies for all data coming into the NIS; fully automate data collection, input, processing and output; implement browser-based dynamic Web applications; and offer high-performance statistical tools for “heavy” users, such as statisticians, who have to define and take samples in order to define the population for a survey.
A matter of scope
The scope of the project was enormous. The FPS economy uses more than 300 core processes, gathers data from many external sources, utilizes hundreds of databases, and produces statistics about diverse topics, including economic indicators, social demographics, price indexes, traffic accidents, real estate and agricultural prices. The FPS Economy’s guiding principles were: added value for public money, improved service, and greater cost efficiency. The end result is a new NIS data warehouse that has all data in a single environment in which users can view dynamic reports with deep drill-down functionality. The warehouse is constantly updated and available so clients can rapidly obtain key socioeconomic information from the FPS Economy. Through a Web interface, external users — citizens and businesses — can access statistics using a self-service mode and create their own tables and graphs based on the parameters or layout they want.