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The term Goskomstat is the abbreviation used to designate the State Committee for Statistics (Gosudarstvennyi Komitet Statistiki, or Goskomstat), which, in July 1997, replaced the Central Statistical Agency (TsSU). Founded in 1918, the Soviet office for statistics went through various institutional transformations starting in January 1930, when central planning was established. The office lost its institutional independence that year and was subsumed under Gosplan, the State Planning Administration. Its missions were redefined. From then on its main task would be to supply Gosplan with the numbers it needed to create the indicators necessary to the planned management of the Soviet economy and society. Conflicts erupted as early as the end of the 1920s between TsSU statisticians and the political leadership on a number of issues, particularly on the measurement of crop levels and the analysis of social differences in the countryside. During the 1930s, disagreements on population numbers led to the purges that touched most of the officials in charge of the census of 1937. In 1948, TsSU once again became independent from Gosplan, but its activity remained essentially focused on the production of numbers for the planning and improvement of indicators.

Following the launching of perestroika policies, in 1985, a decree dated July 17, 1987, stated the necessity to "rebuild the foundations for statistical activity in the country." Nevertheless, planned management of the economy was not abandoned right away. The year 1991 marked a breaking off in this respect with Goskomstat entering a period of reforms clearly oriented toward the abandonment of planning and the transition to a market economy. First, the disappearance of the Soviet state caused the breakup of USSR's Goskomstat followed by the transfer of its various services to each new state born out of the former USSR: each created its own statistics committee or department. After the founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), on December 30, 1991, a statistics committee was created to coordinate the activities of statistics committees of CIS member states.

Adjustment to the new constraints imposed upon the production of statistical data resulting from the transition to a market economy brought about a number of different programs affecting Goskomstat starting in 1992. The recasting of economic indicators, the elaboration of new monitoring toolsnotably for trade and financial activitiesand methods for gathering economic data from a growing number of companies out-side the state sector, as well as the construction of a new national accounting system, were all accomplished thanks to the support of experience from statistical administrations of Western countries. Concern for the ability to compare Russian statistical data with those released by other countries explains the attention that was given to the elaboration of principles for the calculation of GNP and such indicators as price, population, labor, foreign trade, and financial activity statistics that match the practices adopted by Western nations in this domain.

See also: central statistical agency; economy, current; gosplan

Martine Mespoulet

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