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Introduction

In the last five years, in order to produce more concrete deliverables, the Voorburg Group has adopted a more structured approach in terms of its work plan and proceedings. In acknowledging the parallel and equally important development of turnover (output measures), prices and classifications, the Group made an explicit effort to better balance its agenda among these three areas. This new orientation was initially reflected in the 2006 meeting agenda and continued for the 2007 meeting, contributing to the great success of both these meetings.

2006 Meeting

At this 2006 meeting, the Voorburg Group focused on the development of concepts, methods, and best practices in the area of services. The scope of the meeting sessions centered on turnover (output measures), classification, and prices, and sessions were structured around a review of output and price statistics for service industries with the objective of creating comparable data across programs for the improvement of input data for national accounts.

In order to meet its objective, the Voorburg Group created a task force with a mandate to develop, in advance of the meeting, a structured content development framework (CDF) for use by member countries to address the development of services prices and turnover/output data, with links to classifications and national accounts. The CDF, which was completed and available for use by December 2005, specified a structured approach for developing mini-presentations (separately done on prices and turnover/output) and sector papers (covering prices, outputs, and classification) for use in future Voorburg Group meetings.

In 2006, the Group focused its work mainly in three major areas:

  1. Establishing a Content Development Framework (CDF) to guide the direction and work on the different Service Sector industries.
  2. Developing a Thesaurus for prices methodology.
  3. Developing an Industry scorecard tool to assess the various countries’ progress toward developing output and price data for various service industries and products.

Content Development Framework (CDF)

The purpose of the CDF is to provide a much more structured approach to developing mini-presentations and sector papers covering different service industries and for organizing the format and conduct of the Voorburg Group meetings.

The CDF essentially calls for industry specific papers to be prepared by participating countries according to a predefined template, including specific methodological guidelines, and requires that the papers cover pre-established topics related to the Group’s three main domains of interest (turnover, prices and classification), as well as the national accounting perspective.

This approach ensures that the content of the papers are more comparable and standardized, thus facilitating the exchange of knowledge and expertise as well as discussion of issues. The papers are presented, critiqued and discussed in Mini-Presentations during the Group’s meeting (and available on the Group’s website).

This substantive content material as well as the output from the discussions, in turn, serve as key inputs to produce, discuss and adopt Sector papers (presented in the following year) that present a set of key methodological guidelines for the development and production of Service industry statistics. As concrete deliverables from the Voorburg Group meetings, these sector papers are intended to become reference material for statisticians that oversee the development and compilation of Service Sector statistics in the various countries and international organizations.

2007 Meeting

In 2007, building on the success of using the CDF, the Group focused on the following:

  1. Finalizing and formally adopting the Thesaurus for Prices Methodology, including common terminologies for prices, so that all participating countries and international organizations can speak the same language in terms of pricing methodologies. The final version adopted at the 2007 meeting included concrete examples accompanying each of the seven pricing methods and improved definitions of each of the seven pricing methods.
  2. Finalizing and formally adopting Sector Papers on two service industries covered by mini-presentations at the 2006 meeting: Freight Transport by Road (ISIC 4923) and Management Consultancy (ISIC 7020).
  3. Presenting and discussing a General Methodology Paper including theoretical and practical issues and key points of a cross-cutting nature for the Service Sector as a whole. These key points of a general nature are provided to enable the Group to avoid rehashing the same points when discussing specific industries.
  4. Presenting and discussing three Presentations by Three National Accountants from three different countries (South Korea, Australia, and the United States) covering key issues to be addressed by the Voorburg Group to better ascertain and document the specific Service Sector source data used by the national accounts to improve measures of real GDP. Key points were elicited as input to the development of a final report on national accounts to be prepared and presented at the 2008 meeting.

Also at the 2007 meeting, papers on IT Services were presented, discussed, and key points were raised as input to the Sector Paper on IT Services that will be prepared for and delivered at the 2008 Voorburg Group meeting.

In addition, the Voorburg group continued to monitor, via a survey that produces the industry scorecards, the degree to which the countries have made progress on the development of output and price statistics for various industries and products covered by the Service Sector. Results were discussed for a survey of country progress on the five industries comprising IT service industries:

  1. Computer Programming Activities (ISIC 6201)
  2. Information Technology Consultancy and Computer Facilities Management Activities (ISIC 6202)
  3. Other Information Technology Service Activities (ISIC 6209)
  4. Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services (ISIC 6311)
  5. Web Portals (ISIC 6312)

Priority Objectives (All Objectives Were Met at the 2007 Meeting)

The 2007 meeting was a success as all the key objectives were met. The new strategic direction and the more structured approach for the statistical related work were successful and led to :

2008 Meeting

By the time of the 2008 meeting, the Voorburg Group had established a strong foundation for proceeding with future work. Procedures were in place for the Content Development Framework, a Thesaurus for Prices Methodology, a General Methodology Paper, and there was a good understanding of key issues in the development of services statistics from a National Accounting perspective. In addition, there had been the introduction of the “Revisited Sector Papers” concept, which entails building upon previously issued Mini-presentations on prices (presented prior to 2006), which will allow for very efficiently accomplishing future work by effectively leveraging past work. All told, the stage was set for the very productive and successful 2008 meeting.

The 2008 meeting included the presentation and adoption of the Sector Paper on IT Service Industries, Mini-presentations on PPI and Turnover/Output for Wired, Wireless, Satellite, and Telecommunications Services, Mini-presentations on PPI and on Turnover/Output for Wholesale Trade, and the presentation of Revisited Sector Papers on Accounting, Bookkeeping and Auditing Activities and Tax Consultancy; and on Architectural and Engineering Activities and Related technical Consultancy.

The 2008 meeting also included three special presentations. The first, by the Bank of Japan, presented a proposal for the revision of the Corporate Services Price Index to be introduced with a 2005 base by the end of 2009. The CSPU will incorporate IT and outsourcing related services and capture various types of prices. The second presentation provided an overview of the mandate, membership, and activities of Promexico, and included a request that the Voorburg Group address issues concerning import and export pricing, an in-depth analysis of important products including offshoring and outsourcing activities, and an international case study on outsourcing. And the third special presentation outlined the work by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to assess the recent evolution of international trade in services in Costa Rica and Mexico and included a request that the Voorburg Group address issues concerning financial services.

2009 Meeting

An ambitious agenda was proposed for the 2009 meeting. The 2009 meeting included the presentation and adoption of the Sector Paper on Wired, Wireless, Satellite, and Telecommunications Industries; the presentation and adoption of the Sector Paper on Trade Margins for Wholesale Trade; Mini-Presentations on PPI and on Turnover/Output for Banking and Credit; Mini-Presentations on PPI and on Turnover/Output for Rail Transportation; Mini-Presentations on PPI and on Turnover/Output for Water Transportation; and the presentation of Revisited Sector Papers on Air Transportation; on Rental and Leasing Services; on Employment Services; on Investigation and Security Services; on Advertising and Market Research Services and Public Opinion Polling; and on Real Estate, Excluding Imputed Rents.

The 2009 meeting also included a special session on the Effect of Globalization on Services Producer Price Index Change in the IT Industry: Case Studies for Selected Multinational Companies.

2010 Meeting

Continuing with the theme of ambitious agendas, the 2010 meeting included the presentation and adoption of Sector Papers on Passenger Rail Transport, Freight Rail Transport, and Water Transport; and Revisited Sector Papers on Legal Services, Warehousing and Storage, and Courier Activities, Mini-Presentations on PPI and Turnover/Output were included for Cleaning and Facilities Services, Accommodations and Food Services, Distributive Trades, and Research and Development. A special Mini-Presentation also was included on Reference Rates and Negative Prices for Banking and Credit.

The 2010 meeting also included a special session which arose from the Revisited Sector Papers on Air Transportation, Rental and Leasing, and Advertising that had been presented at the 2009 meeting. All three of these above-named sectors have quality adjustment issues with respect to when quality adjustment is appropriate (i.e., when does a quality change take place?), prompting the special presentations on Air Transportation: Flexible Options/Tickets, Rental and Leasing: Asset Value, and Audience Size for Advertising. Ultimately, it was concluded that the 2011 meeting will include additional clarifying papers on Airline Quality Change and on Advertising, and that the Ottawa Group should be consulted with respect to quality adjustment issues.

2011 Meeting

The 2011 meeting included the presentation and adoption of the Sector Papers on Banking and Credit: Reference Rates and Negative Prices; on Adjusting Quality Change (with specific emphasis on Airline Quality Change and Advertising); on the Distributive Trades Issues paper, on Accommodations and Food Services; and on Cleaning and Facilities Services. Mini-Presentations on PPI and Turnover/Output were included for Technical Testing, Insurance/Other Financial Intermediation (Except Life Insurance), Waste Management/Waste Treatment, and Maintenance and Repair of Motor Vehicles. These four areas covered by Mini-Presentations at the 2011 meeting will be covered as Sector Papers at the 2012 meeting.

The 2011 meeting also included special sessions on cross-cutting topics, including Distributive Trades, Airline Quality Change and Advertising Quality Change, Manufacturing Services, and Research and Development.

Future Work Agenda (For 2012 and Onward)

The 2012 meeting will include the presentation and adoption of the sector papers on Technical Testing and Maintenance and Repair of Automobiles as well as issues papers on Airline Quality Change and Advertising Quality Change (including the perspectives of the Ottawa Group), on Non-Life Insurance and on Waste Management/Waste Treatment. Also, for the 2012 meeting, there will be the introduction of the “Updated Sector Papers” concept, which will involve the Voorburg Groups revisiting selected industry/industry groups in areas where the existing classifications are getting out of date and are no longer reflecting the business and marketing structures that exist in the various member countries’ economies. Updated Sector Papers planned for the 2012 meeting include Sea and Coastal Water Transport, Air Transport, Telecommunications, and Computer Programming.

The 2012 meeting also will include Mini-Presentations on PPI and Turnover/Output for Commercial and Industrial Machinery and for Water Treatment and Distribution Services. Mini-Presentations on Turnover/Output (Only) will be included for Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Services; and for Consumer and Household Goods Repair and Maintenance.

In addition, some special sessions on cross-cutting topics are being planned, including New Challenges and Directions for Quality Change/Quality Adjustment for PPI; and Operational Efficiency Strategies for Supporting the Collection, Processing, and Dissemination of Services Statistics.

New Activities

The papers from the previous meetings of the Group are available at: www.voorburggroup.org