Venue: Room 308, Government Buildings, D02 R583
Date: Wednesday 11 May, 2023
Time: 10.00am to 15.00pm
General Discussion and Q&A
Minutes of NSB meeting March 29th, 2023
|5||Future Vision for the Irish Government Statistical Service|
|6||Data Stewardship: Summary of CSO’s current operational position|
National Statistics Board
The meeting took place in the Government Buildings and was a hybrid meeting.
Date: Thursday 11th May 2023
Members present: Ms. Anne Vaughan (Chairperson), Ms. Eithne Fitzgerald, Dr. Eimear Cotter, Mr. Gerard Brady, Mr. John Martin, Mr. John Shaw, Mr. John McCarthy and Mr. Pádraig Dalton*
Non-members in attendance from CSO: Brian Cahill (Secretary), Richard McMahon and Tara Davis, Paul Morrin (attended for items 5, 6 & 7), Jennifer Banim* (attended for items 2, 3 & 4).
In attendance for Agenda Item 1: Labour Market Statistics: Current and Future Data Needs
Joan McNaboe, Nora Condon
Economic and Social Research Institute
Dr. Seamus McGuinness
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment
Marcus Breathnach, Dermot Coates
Department of Social Protection
Dermot Corcoran, Hugh Cronin
The Board received the following presentations:
The discussion between the Board, presenters, and policy colleagues from DETE, DSP and DCEDIY highlighted the strides that have been made in labour market statistics in the last number of years and illustrated the need for further developments in particular areas.
It was noted in the discussion that:
Job Vacancies – Web Scraping
There has been significant progress in the development of labour market statistics in recent years which provides the public and decision makers with data and insight. There are further developments in train to help meet an ever-increasing demand. Challenges remain especially in the area of quantifying new and emerging skills; employee hours; and self-employed. There is an opportunity to continue the conversation on this topic through a Liaison Group organised by CSO.
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed with one minor amendment.
The Board took the DG Report and NSB Strategy Progress Update together. The main novel outputs from CSO since the last meeting were first highlighted to the Board.
The Board noted that the main strategic challenge currently facing the CSO is recruitment and having sufficient staff resources to meet the growing demands for outputs and services, as well as providing the requisite resources to the IGSS. It was noted that recruitment challenges exist across the system and that CSO are competing for data skills in a very competitive labour market. The Board heard that CSO are evolving their approach to recruitment by moving to ongoing recruitment; engaging with universities; communicating the whole package of benefit; and endeavoring to be an employer of choice.
The Board congratulated CSO on significant number of new outputs since the last meeting. The Distributional National Accounts publication was very much welcomed, and the Board looks forward to the joint distribution of Income Consumption and Wealth which will be based upon a rolling HBS. The publication on Corporate Profits was noted as being very interesting and useful for tax forecasting.
The Board noted that there is an ever-increasing demand for county level data.
The Board agree to consider having a session/agenda item on a Shared Island data.
The Board enquired whether Eurostat products being produced by CSO or ISS can all be made available on PX Stat.
The Board noted that preliminary estimates of GDP and other key indicators are adding to the available knowledge for decision makers and the public. There is a need to continue to explain what these estimates are, their use and their limitations. CSO must continue to communicate to expert users, non-experts and to national and international audiences. Reconciliation between preliminary and final estimates and reasons for difference would provide greater clarity to users. The Board indicated that there may be demand for flash estimates more focused on the domestic economy such as MDD and GNI*.
The Board also noted that as global tax changes come into effect these will affect the Current Accounts, and that the potential impact of these changes on national statistics could be communicated in advance to users.
The Board enquired as to the progress being made in the acquisition and use of Big Data to produce statistics. The Board heard that utilities data is being utilised for environmental statistics; aggregate data from mobile phone providers was used to measure mobility during COVID-19 restrictions; scanner data is being used for prices statistics; and port and shipping traffic data is also being utilised.
There are opportunities to use aggregated mobile phone data to produce tourism statistics and provide insights into commuting behaviour. There is also potential to use bank card data for consumption and retail sales statistics and to supplement the Household Budget Survey.
The Board heard that the EU regulation on privately held data will help progress the area of Big Data further. For privately held big data, CSO must have the highest standards of data governance, classification, and procedures. There will be significant scrutiny to ensure the systems are fit for purpose.
The Board enquired about the affects COVID-19 has had on the seasonality of data series. The board heard that the CSO methodology division worked closely with business areas throughout the COVID-19 period to ensure the appropriate use of seasonal adjustment.
The Board noted that the possibility (discussions at very early stages) of CSO having a recruitment remit for data skills for the whole public and civil service would be hugely time and resource intensive and urged caution. As IGSS grows, the relationship and reporting structures between IGSS staff and CSO needs to be clearly defined. As demand for data outputs grows, Department analysts may take on more analytical responsibilities, with support from CSO and IGSS.
The Board heard that IGSS staff within Government Departments are the link between Department and the CSO. The IGSS staff bring relevant questions to CSO, but CSO are removed from the policy process. Expanding Department’s Data and Analytics capabilities outside IGSS may weaken the connection between CSO and Departments.
The Board heard that there is a possibility to extend CSO’s analytical function to the broader civil and public service. But this would be a huge undertaking which would have many challenges. CSO intend to take a stepped approach in the context of their current recruitment constrained experience but will also engage with Departments and PAS to set standards for data skills recruitment across the service.
(NSB 2023-3-6, NSB 2023-3-7, NSB 2021-1-5)
(NSB 2023-3-6, NSB 2023-3-7, NSB 2021-1-5)
The Board welcomed the papers on Data Stewardship and enquired as to whether the CSO intend to provide a Data Science and Data Analytics function as part of their Data Stewardship role. The Board heard that CSO have the Data Science and Data Analytics skills and intend to work with public bodies to support the system in this regard.
The Board noted that there remain silos of administrative data throughout the public system and heard that CSO intend to systematically work with Departments to incorporate them into the expanded National Data Infrastructure (NDI+). In addition to the use of unique identifiers across public sector data holdings the NDI+ will include the use of standardised data classifications. The first standard classifications to be rolled out as part of the NDI+ are Nationality and Occupation classifications. This will be expanded to twenty additional standard classification from household and economic surveys.
The Board heard that ISSCoP certification required Departments to have an independent timetable of data publication and quality documentation supporting their outputs.
The Board were updated on planning for a NSB seminar on the future of Census.
The Board were asked for their feedback on the Equality Data Strategy in writing by COB 19th May 2023.
The Board were informed that process of appointing new NSB Board members is ongoing in the Department of the Taoiseach.
The Board thanked John Martin, Gerard Brady and Eimear Cotter, who are stepping down from the NSB after six years, for the work, commitment, and insight they have each given to the Board and wished them well in the future. Padraig Dalton also thanked them on his own behalf and that of the CSO. John, Gerard and Eimear each said they were delighted to serve on the Board and had enjoyed the experience.