I would like to respond to a number of statements in the press regarding the integrity of the "People's Survey". The survey was conducted by ANU Enterprise, a company wholly owned by The Australian National University (ANU).
Before I respond fully I would like to make two points. The first is to continue to thank the people of the Solomon Islands who worked on the survey, who participated in the survey, and who are now supporting the work that they did and the results they obtained through speaking in the media.
The second is to again ask all who are interested in the survey to read the results which are available online at http://ramsi.org/node/234. We sincerely believe this information is useful, and those who disregard the results are missing a good opportunity to utilise valuable data for programming and policy development.
As per my last letter I should reiterate that this was a survey commissioned by RAMSI and not by the Solomon Islands Government. That said, significant consultations with the Solomon Islands Government did occur.
The People's Survey is well documented, including in the RAMSI Performance Framework, which was supported by senior officials in the Solomon Islands Government as early as November 2005. The People's Survey content and questions were also discussed between RAMSI program officials and their Government counterparts.
The ANU Enterprise team over the 2006-2007 period undertook consultations with numerous community members and, in relation to Government, had meetings to discuss the People's Survey in one way or another with senior personnel in numerous departments including but not limited to the Office of the Chief Justice, the RSIP (as it was then), the Department of Finance and Treasury, the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Inland Revenue and Finance, and the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
With regard to our relationship with the National Statistics Office (NSO), I wish to state we always understood we were dealing with NSO as an institution - and all our contact was through the Chief Statistician - in much the same way ADB, SPC and others have partnered with NSO to produce recent surveys.
The invoices we received from NSO were on NSO letterhead and cheques were made payable to NSO and receipts signed by NSO. No "secret" payments were made nor were any attempted to be made. No attempt was made to "lure" anyone with offers of personal payments or benefits.
Everybody we spoke to in Government, in RAMSI, and in the broader community understood the potential usefulness of the survey data and was enthusiastic about it.
We are not aware that we broke any legislation but we take this issue very seriously and are keen to work with the Government and others to assess this issue.
We undertook the survey in good faith with all those who were involved. We complied with taxation and superannuation requirements by making the necessary arrangements with the Ministry of Inland Revenue and Finance and the National Provident Fund for procuring and paying staff who worked on the project.
Contrary to assertions that ANU Enterprise made millions from the survey - we did not. ANU Enterprise does not have a profit making mandate and this can be demonstrated by the application process we are going through to become a charity as defined by the Australian Taxation Office - we are not in business to make a profit.
In conclusion I would like to make a few points. First is that the survey is statistically valid irrespective of who was or was not involved - we are more than happy to open up our methodology to outside scrutiny.
I would like to reiterate our heartfelt thanks to those who participated and through their actions in the media continue to be involved and support the survey - this is genuinely appreciated.
My last point is to again ask people to look at the data and to see how it could be useful to their planning and work be they Government, RAMSI, community or individuals, to help create a better future for the Solomon Islands.
ANU Enterprise Pty Ltd
No secrets in the People's Survey
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Simon Cann-Evans and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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