NATIONAL STATISTICS BOARD
Venue: Department of the Taoiseach, Room 308
Date: Thursday December 10, 2015 at 10.00am
Item 1: Minutes of October 7, 2015 (NSB 2015-5-2)
Item 2: NSB recommended actions governance template (NSB 2015-5-3)
Item 3: Director General’s progress report (NSB 2015-5-4)
Item 4: Update on CSO resources (NSB 2015-5-5)
Item 5: Census 2021 (NSB 2015-5-6)
Item 6: Any other business
National Statistics Board
Date: Thursday 10 December, 2015
The following Board members attended:
Dr. Patricia O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr. Gerard O’Neill, Mr. Tom Geraghty, Mr. John Callinan, Mr. John McCarthy and Mr. Pádraig Dalton.
Dr. Lucy Fallon-Byrne and Mr. Richard McMahon (CSO Senior Management) were also in attendance.
Ms. Claire Hanley acted as Secretary.
Apologies: Ms. Rowena Dwyer, Dr. Helen Johnston
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.
The Board discussed the progress on the recommended actions as set out in its Strategy 2015-2020.
Public sector and CSO leadership
The NSB Strategy stressed the importance of leadership, by both the public sector and the CSO, in achieving its vision for official statistics. A key starting point in the process of engagement is establishing the relevance of the CSO to the broader system in terms of supporting: policy development, policy evaluation, administrative efficiency, improved public service and relevance to the Civil Service Renewal Actions. In order to highlight its support role and establish a positive landscape to facilitate the establishment of the Irish Government Statistical Service (IGSS) coordination role, the CSO will hold a workshop for Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) members in January 2016.
The Board discussed the significance of the proposed workshop and suggested ways in which the strategic importance of engagement with the broader system should be communicated to the CSMB members.
The NSB Strategy identifies the need for significant additional resources for the CSO to give effect to its recommendations including the implications of: the amendment to EU law which broadens the role of the CSO and that of the Director General, particularly in regard to the coordination of European Statistics; the European Statistics Code of Practice Peer Review and the agreed Improvement Actions arising from it; and the need for the CSO to coordinate all producers of official statistics in Ireland.
The CSO were successful in their business case submitted to D/PER in September 2015 and are now in the process of putting in place a new organisational structure that is responsive to the change in regulations and recommendations from the NSB Strategy and the Peer Review.
The process of introducing a product-based and process-based accounting approach will begin in CSO in 2016.
The Board welcomed the success of the CSO submission to D/PER and noted the additional resources envisaged.
CSO Skills Base – Continuous Professional Development Programme
The introduction of a continuous professional development programme for CSO staff was recommended in the NSB Strategy as a means to take account of the new skills required to engage with new data sources and technologies. The CSO has put this programme in place for AP grades and above, initially, and it has been included in the prioritisation programme for 2016.
CSO and Big Data – Development of mobile devices and engagement with DPC
Following the 2015 formal opinion by the DPC that the CSO project to use mobile phone data to compile regional tourism statistics would be in contravention of e-Privacy legislation, the CSO sought feedback from a third party legal advisor and have received a positive response. It is now envisaged that the dialogue will continue between the CSO, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).
CSO and user engagement
The need for the CSO to have more formal and structured communication with its users has been identified as a recommended action in the NSB Strategy as well as in the Peer Review.
Conducting a user needs survey is an action for completion by the middle of Q2 2016. From an operational perspective, one option being considered is that the survey be outsourced. The CSO will brief the Board on progress on designing this survey at its next meeting.
The CSO website has been redesigned and was launched during August 2015.
Two Irish students were placed first in the world in the senior category of a poster competition run by the International Association of Statistical Education (IASE) in collaboration with the International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) and in the junior category three Irish students were placed third. The ‘Apps4Gaps’ competition has been launched again for 2016 and for the first time the CSO will give an award at the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
Researchers’ access to microdata
A project to facilitate remote access for researchers is to begin in the CSO during Q1 2016.
CSO priorities - Health, Disability and Well-being
A new statistician resource has been assigned to develop statistics on health, disability and well-being. The initial focus will be on processing the Irish Health Survey and publishing results towards the middle of 2016. The potential to develop related outputs from existing CSO household surveys will be examined. Other outputs will include a barometer of Ireland from a well-being perspective as identified in the NSB Strategy.
The Director General briefed the Board on a number of recent developments within CSO and at European level.
Government Finance Statistics
Ireland’s System of Health Accounts 2013 was published on 3December, following a very successful project that involved the Department of Health, the HSE, HIQA, a representative from the private health insurers, an academic expert on the Irish healthcare system and an international expert on System of Health Accounts (SHA). The legal deadline for transmission of 2014 results to Eurostat is end-May 2016 and following that transmission, the CSO plan to organise a seminar focused on SHA
National Accounts IT Project
Phase I of the National Accounts IT Project closed in July 2015, with almost all of the deliverables met. Phase II of the project is underway and is focusing on developing systems for Quarterly National Accounts, Sector Accounts and Government Finance Statistics.
Survey on Income and Living Conditions, 2014
The Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2014 results were published on 26 November last and this marks a significant improvement in timeliness on previous year’s results which was welcomed by key users.
Integrated European Social Statistics (IESS) Regulation
A modernisation initiative which covers social surveys, population statistics and mainly administratively-based statistics has been under discussion at Eurostat for the past two years. The programme involves the integration of data collection, standardisation of variables and wider use of innovative data sources.
The CSO fully supports the modernisation initiative and the overall objectives of the IESS, but feel that the priority areas identified do not reflect user needs and are inconsistent with the ‘Beyond GDP’ initiative. CSO opposed the current draft of the IESS regulation which was brought to the European Statistical System Committee on 19 November last. Eurostat will reflect on the discussions, consult with the wider EU Commission and expect that a finalised proposal will be adopted by the middle of 2016.
The Board discussed the concerns raised by CSO in relation to the draft IESS regulation particularly in the context of inconsistencies with other initiatives.
Structure of Earnings 2011
CSO Methodology Division is implementing a project to compile Structure of Earnings statistics for the years 2011 to 2014, using primarily administrative data sources rather than survey collection. The project involves an innovative approach to data linkage and modelling and will provide statistics which update the National Employment Survey (NES) conducted between 2007 and 2009.
The publication of the results for 2011 has been deferred to enable the analysis of corresponding 2012 data and a peer review of the new methodology. This is an important step in verifying the new methodology and providing quality assurance.
The Board discussed the importance of verifying the new methodology for this important output and suggested that the time series 2011-2014 be published at the same time.
Draft FRIBS Regulation
Discussion continues on preparing the new framework FRIBS regulation (Framework Regulation integrating European Business Statistics). An Impact Assessment was recently completed by each Member State. CSO's indicative assessment is that FRIBS (excluding SIMSTAT) will add about €425,000 per year to the cost of business statistics and about 7,000 hours per year to respondent burden. The largest changes contributing to this are collection of annual structural business statistics in the financial sectors and in private education, health and other services.
At the recent meeting of the Business Statistics Directors Group (BSDG), the legal architecture of FRIBS was discussed – the requirements to be specified in the basic regulation; the powers to be conferred on the European Commission to specify technical points or to make changes to the requirements in Implementing or Delegated acts; and the safeguards to be specified in the basic regulation to ensure those powers are used reasonably.
By far the most contentious part of FRIBS, from Ireland's perspective, is the SIMSTAT proposal in relation to the exchange of exports of goods micro-data with other Member States. The CSO has serious concerns about SIMSTAT, as regards its effect on quality, burden and the security of confidential data.
Eurostat's current timetable is to present final proposals on FRIBS to the ESSC in May 2016, for adoption by the ESSC in September. However, given the issues described above, this timetable may be too ambitious.
The Board discussed the difficulties these proposals pose for official statistics in Ireland and the impact on quality of trade statistics across Europe. It is envisaged that further discussion, wider than the statistical community, will be required following the adoption of this proposal.
Prioritisation Exercise and Transformation Programme Board
The SMC completed the prioritisation exercise following consultation with CSO management groups in October and during November all CSO staff were invited to attend Information and Engagement events. Phase 1 of many of the CSO 2020 projects are completed and the work of the Transformation Programme Board for 2016 will focus on overseeing the Prioritisation Programme and ensuring that all projects meet their strategic objects and adhere to project governance standards and milestones.
The Board discussed the feedback from the CSO engagement sessions and requested that the priority actions for 2016-2018 be presented at the next meeting.
Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey
A first draft of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey report has been prepared by the CSO. This draft includes details on engagement indices for all Departments, analysis of the factors which drive engagement and indices for all themes included in the survey. The CSO is currently finalising the data and providing aggregates to DPER and Deloitte Consulting to support the preparation of a report for publication.
The Board noted the high response rate of 40% and look forward to the publication of the survey results.
1916 Commemoration Project Update
As part of the overall 1916 programme, the CSO is planning to publish interesting material from across all CSO divisions ranging from vital statistics: births, marriages deaths; the economy: national accounts, exports and imports; consumer price index; agriculture; transport; housing. The publication will also include chapters on women and men in the rising including their Census returns from 1911.
As noted above, the CSO were successful in their business case submitted to D/PER in September 2015 and are in the process of putting a new organisational structure in place.
Further resources requirements are envisaged and it is anticipated that the full new structure will take 2-3 years to put in place.
The Board welcomed the success of the CSO submission to D/PER and noted the additional resources envisaged.
Richie McMahon presented an update on Census 2016 progress followed by a roadmap for modernisation of the Census 2021 which envisages a multi-mode approach and an increased use of administrative data.
The Board welcomed the modernisation plans for Census 2021 and noted the limitations when planning Census 2016 due to financial constraints.
The Board discussed the challenges in introducing a multi-mode approach to Census 2021 and how the increased use of administrative data could impact on the response rate. It was agreed that the CSO could learn from the experience in other countries facing such challenges.
The Board discussed the Lobbying Act 2015 and agreed to follow a course of action to ensure compliance with the Transparency Code.
The next meeting of the Board will take place on February 25, 2016 at the Department of the Taoiseach.