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Nepal: Census Methodology

(extracted from case study)

1993 Census


The main objective of the 1993 census was to create a database on the positions and employees in the civil service capable of producing timely and relevant information in any desired format. The census was extended to the entire country and covered all ministries, departments and regional/district level offices. The entire census was conducted during the calendar year 1993.

Two separate schedules were prepared, one for the permanent personnel and the other for temporary personnel. The data fields were:

  • gender
  • age
  • educational attainment (highest level of academic degree acquired)
  • length of service
  • type of service (e.g. administrative, health)
  • category (e.g. administrative, technical)
  • tenure (e.g. permanent, temporary)
  • level (e.g. gazetted, non-gazetted)
  • average monthly earnings (e.g. salaries and allowances excluding income form other sources if any).


Before launching the actual fieldwork, a publicity campaign was carried out via the Ministry of Home and Finance. During the actual fieldwork, the field personnel contacted the relevant respondent, usually the office chief, via the Chief District Officer. The respondents were fully briefed and instructed in the methods of completing the census schedule. During the census enumeration, the census officer verified the completed schedules against the list of employees on the payroll of the concerned office. In order to ensure the accuracy of the data, the field staff checked the attendance register and counted the number of employees. The completed schedules were collected by the field personnel and brought to the central office of the MOGA before being forwarded to the National Computer Center where the results were processed. The work was carried out in four stages, and ultimately, the census was completed within ten months.

The data were analyzed in detail and a whole range of statistics were produced, providing a snapshot of the composition and of the Civil Service and of pay patterns in 1993. However, no systems were introduced to ensure the ongoing accuracy of the database or to relate it to the control of the payroll.

1999/2000 Census


The 1999/2000 census was another attempt to gain information about the size and composition of the Civil Service, but it was not clear whether it was supposed to be a one-off head count or a platform for a computerized personnel information system. Certainly the methodology was not rigorous enough to provide reliable data that could be verified against the payroll.

The terms of reference for the international consultants supporting census exercise were as follows:

  • Undertake a detailed update of the earlier civil service census, providing a gender disaggregated database.
  • Conduct a census of the ten services that form Nepal's Civil Service.
  • Construct a computerized database and backup system to store and retrieve this information; select and provide appropriate hardware and software.
  • Advise MOGA on the optimal organizational and managerial set-up and develop business processes appropriate for maintaining and updating the database.
  • Train MOGA staff in these functions and ensure compatibility with the Ministry of Finance payroll and budget information databases so that the systems can be interlinked in a follow-on project.

The census was designed to cover temporary and permanent staff in terms of:

  • class (gazetted, non-gazetted)
  • position (administrative, technical)
  • age
  • recruitment date
  • number of years in service
  • number of years in current position
  • salary and allowances (including the source of salary for staff involved in externally funded projects)
  • for gazetted staff, the number of assignments with other ministries on deputation, agencies and departments (including the name of the organization and the length of assignment)
  • other necessary information, including gender issues.


The executing agency was the MOGA, and the project was guided by a high powered steering committee for civil service reforms, chaired by the Prime Minister. The vice-chairman of the Committee was the Minister for General Administration, and the committee included representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Local Government, Auditor General's Office, Public Service Commission, Nepal Administrative Staff College, Institute of Public Administration, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Association of District Development Committees and Village Development Committees and the Mayor's Association. There were also representatives of the private sector and non-government organizations. The Public Sector Reform Policy Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister provided the secretariat of the committee and liaised with MOGA the day-to-day operation of the project. The international consultants reported directly to the project director in MOGA.

Workshops were undertaken with the participation of all concerned stakeholders during implementation.

The census did not employ a 'head count' approach to verify the numbers of personnel in?post. Instead, it relied on government officials to ensure that individual employees completed a questionnaire recording their own personal details. The government enumerators simply handed over a batch of questionnaires in each location and then left. This approach ensured neither the completeness nor the accuracy of the census. There were known to be gaps in the data for districts where questionnaires have been returned, but it was not apparent exactly how many questionnaires were missing.

Alongside the census, a parallel exercise was introduced to computerize information contained in the central based personnel files held in MOGA's Records Center. MOGA decided to initiate this exercise when it became apparent that the census questionnaire did not include a number of fields that were contained in MOGA's manual records. It was perceived that the census was a 'one-off' exercise that served a much narrower purpose. A local software firm was engaged with government funds to program a database in ORACLE, and the records for gazetted officers were coded and for input. It is estimated that it would take two years to complete this exercise for the entire civil service. The intention was to computerize all the personal data contained in the 'sheet roll', the form compiled when a civil servant first joined the civil service, using an ACCESS database.

The new Secretary, MOGA, then brought together the consultants working on the census and the Deputy Director of the Records Center to see how the two parallel initiatives could be married. It was then decided that the database that was being established in the Records Center would become the basis for the computerized personnel information system. This database would utilize, as far as possible, the census data that was held on the ACCESS database since it was possible to migrate the ACCESS files to ORACLE.

Read the full case study…

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