China Statistics Bureau Says Employees Improperly Profited

  • NBS says it found 313 employees violated agency rules
  • Irregularities found in purchases of handheld devices

China’s statistics authority said officials improperly profited from agency data, according to a report that cited other shortfalls including procedures that don’t keep up with economic changes.

The National Bureau of Statistics said 313 employees violated agency rules and have been asked to return 3.23 million yuan ($500,000) in fees that they improperly collected, according to a statement from the authority posted Wednesday on the website of the nation’s anti-corruption body. The NBS also found irregularities in purchases of handheld devices used to collect data.

The NBS, which publishes China’s official economic data including gross domestic product, also said it hasn’t updated operations to reflect development of the new economy, the statement said. The bureau will roll out updated guidelines for compiling data across those sectors by the end of this year and has amended how it calculates regional growth.

Inconsistency between totals for provincial growth and the broader national GDP number has long fueled skepticism by economists about the credibility of NBS data. The report shows the challenges facing agency chief Ning Jizhe, a close adviser to Premier Li Keqiang who was named to the position in February after former head Wang Baoan was removed over unspecified corruption allegations after less than a year on the job.

An official in the NBS news department who was asked for clarification by Bloomberg said that the report doesn’t suggest that employees leaked confidential data or that they took kickbacks from publishers. She declined to provide additional description of the findings.

The report was written by the NBS and published online by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party body that has been cracking down on corruption by tens of thousands of officials since President Xi Jinping took office.

NBS said the findings were based on regular CCDI inspections from October to December.  It didn’t link the findings to the corruption charges against Wang.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to say staff made improper gains, not leaked data.)

— With assistance by Xiaoqing Pi

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