From 1841 onwards the Commission centrale de Statistique gave direction
to the Belgian official statistics. Unlike in other European countries this official
statistical institution not only consisted of civil servants. Nearly half of the
members were (early) social scientists, philanthropists, journalists and geographers.
In this article we analyse the composition of the statistical commission
between 1841 and 1870. We explore how the unique composition of the
Commission centrale de Statistique contributed to its success during the first
decade of its existence and how the conflicts between the civil servants and
the other members - together with external criticism - led to the decline of
the commission from the late 1850's onwards.