Thursday September 14th, 2023
Room 301, Government Buildings
10.00 to 13.30
10.00 - 10.30
Introductions - Tour de Table
10.00 - 10.40
Minutes of NSB meeting May 11th, 2003
10.40 - 10.55
NSB Statement of Strategy
Presentation by Brian Cahill
Director General's Report to NSB
|12.00 - 12.20
|Follow-Ups from previous NSB Discussion
|12.20 - 12.40
|Census Seminar Update and Discussion
|12.40 - 12.45
The meeting took place in the Government Buildings.
Date: Thursday 14th September 2023, 10am to 1.30pm
Members present: Ms. Anne Vaughan (Chairperson), Ms. Eithne Fitzgerald, Dr. Martina Lawless,
Dr. Clíona Saidléar, Mr. John Shaw, Mr. Jim Scheer, Mr. Gary Tobin, and Mr. Pádraig Dalton*
Non-members in attendance from CSO: Brian Cahill (Secretary), Richard McMahon and Paul Morrin.
* attended remotely
Anne Vaughan thanked the outgoing Board members for their work and dedication to the Board and thanked John McCarthy, who completed his time with the Board since the last meeting, for his significant contribution over the 9 years on the Board.
Anne Vaughan welcomed the new Board members (Jim, Clíona, Martina and Gary) and congratulated them on being successful in their application to the Board. It was noted that Colm O’Reardon, who was originally nominated to join the Board from the Department of Finance, has been promoted to Secretary General in DFHERIS.
Each member of the Board introduced themselves and provided an overview of their background and their interest in Official Statistics.
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.
Brian Cahill presented to the Board on the NSB’s Statement of Strategy, and an overview of the progress made on implementing the strategy to date.
The Board noted that the next NSB Statement of Strategy will be developed to cover the five-year period 2027 to 2032. The CSO Statement of Strategy is a 3-year strategy which is informed by the NSB Statement of Strategy. The CSO Statement of Strategy must be produced after a change of Government or the appointment of a new Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach.
The CSO Director General expanded upon some of main points from his report. The Board welcomed the report and discussed some of the items further and the new members were invited to raise questions, seek clarifications etc. which they did. Areas covered included:
Eircodes: The Board noted the view that there is a case to be made for a legislative basis for the collection of Eircodes across the public service. The ‘just ask’ approach has been successful to-date, but an appropriate legislative basis for the future needs to be considered.
Data priorities: The Board were informed of how CSO compiles a wide range of statistics to meet national (i.e. Government, business, researchers, general public, etc.), EU and other international data requirements and that the bulk of the statistics produced are mandatory under EU Statistical legislation. After fulfilling regulated data requirements, the CSO prioritises the production of statistics that fulfil the needs of policy makers, provide insight into Irish society, and fulfil user demands. Specific new initiatives can be Government backed and are sometimes resourced by relevant departments. The Statistical System Coordination Unit undertake pathfinder projects to meet the analytical and to inform the policy needs of departments.
Data gaps: The Board heard how CSO identify data gaps and what emerging data needs and demands are identified. Horizon scanning, to identify data needs and gaps, occurs at all levels of the System of Official Statistics and across the CSO. For example:
Privately held data: The Board discussed the increasing challenges in primary data collection and the increased propensity to utilise secondary data in the production of Official Statistics, such as administrative data and Big Data (scanner data and web scraping data). The CSO currently does not have legal access to privately held data but have collaborated with third parties on a voluntary basis to produce statistics from private data. One such example was the Stay Local indicator which used aggregated mobile phone data to illustrate peoples movements during COVID-19 period. A legal basis for access to privately held data by NSIs for statistical purposes is being progressed at a European level.
Data holding improvements: The Board were informed that CSO engage widely and regularly with the CPS to improve data available on administrative systems using unique identifies and standard classifications. Challenges exist for CPS such as the often-rigid nature of IT and administrative systems that are difficult to change. Departments are engaging with CSO more and more when they are planning to make changes to their systems. If there is a policy need from across the system, CSO do engage with bodies directly to make a business case for the collection of specific data to fulfil specific data needs. CSO’s ability to link data from multiple sources adds value to each data source and gives the ability to add characteristics to available data from which additional insights can be obtained subject to the implementation of appropriate data governance standards. The CSO through the ADC provide feedback to CPS on the quality of variables provided to CSO. The increased use of the NDI and standard classifications will increase quality and comparability across the data system into the future.
The Data Sharing and Governance Act set out the procedures for data sharing across the CPS for non-statistical purposes. For statistical purposes (including the provision of evidence and insight) the CSO are in a position to link CPS data and facilitate access to Departmental researchers through the Data Rooms initiative established in collaboration with the OGCIO.
The Board discussed the increased use of big data across the CPS and the need for IT systems and data infrastructure to manage, store and use this data. The Board agreed that a coordinated approach to building these systems should be taken across the CPS. CSO have already started to provide guidance and advice to the CPS on setting up data related issues designed to support processing and analysis of large datasets.
Development of GDP estimates: The Board discussed the impact Irish GDP and National Accounts estimates have on EU aggregates and the need to continue to clearly communicate:
The Board were informed that a new System of National Accounts is in development through the United Nations, with one of the outcomes likely to be an increased focus on net measures of economic activity which in an Irish context would be more reflective of the domestic economy.
The Board were informed of the reasons for the difference between estimates of young adults living with parents from Census and from Survey on Income and Living Conditions.
The Board discussed progress being made on topics that were recently considered by the Board. The Board noted:
Statistics, data and information on disability and related areas
Census Advisory Group are currently looking at submissions for changes to Census 2027, these include submissions relating to measuring disability. There is a need to discuss with stakeholders, including DCEIDY, Department of Health, Department of Social Protection and Department of Education, about the availability of administrative data sources that could be used to gain insight into certain disabilities.
Eurostat determine modules to be included in the Labour Force Survey and there are currently no plans to have a module specifically on disability, as disability measures (GALI and Census disability questions) are collected in LFS on an ongoing basis. Data from the LFS broken down by GALI and census disability is available upon request from the CSO.
CSO data can be reported by the new health regions.
CSO will begin hosting TILDA research data and facilitate researcher access through the ROSA system.
CSO produce statistics on Disability through a wide range of instruments, there may by a need to develop a Disability Hub which pulls together all the statistics on the topic.
CSO are open to undertaking a National Disability Survey as a follow up to Census 2027 if there is a policy demand and funding is available to undertake it.
Health Data Hub: CSO intend to develop a new Health Statistics Data Hub, which will bring together health statistics from across the ISS to make them accessible from a single location.
There is a public and policy need for robust, frequent, and timely statistics on housing to ensure evidence informed discussions on housing can take place.
The CSO have placed a second seconded statistician with the Department of Housing to continue the development of their data systems and further develop their data outputs.
Good work has already been undertaken in this regard with the development of the Housing Completions publication, which linked seven administrative datasets to produce outputs.
There is a need for data sources which can follow housing through the life cycle from land to planning application to building to completion. There is currently no single identifier in use in this process.
Currently, land prices and commercial property prices are two data gaps that exist.
Tailte Éireann is responsible for land price data. Their systems are being developed over time. CSO are collaborating with Tailte Éireann and the Department of Housing to see what opportunities exist and what developments are needed to improve the quality and availability of statistics in this area.
The Board was informed that the NSB seminar on the Future of how Censuses are Conducted in Ireland will take place in Dublin Castle on February 1st. The first session of the seminar will set out the relevant information on the topic through presentations from the CSO and ONS, UK. This will be followed by sessions with key stakeholders and Q&As. The Board noted the importance of hearing the views of all stakeholders and users of Census data. A more detailed review of panel composition will be important to ensure that the full range of potential views around the way forward for Census are represented.
An Oral Parliamentary Question relating to the activities of the NSB was read to the Dáil on Wednesday 20th September. See link
An Organisational Capacity Review is ongoing in the CSO.
The Board were advised of the proposed NSB meeting dates for 2024.
The Board requested to receive a paper on the work of CSO in relation to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learnings for the December Board meeting.
The Board plan to look at National Accounts in the first meeting of 2024.
The Board agreed to have a themed meeting on Shared Island in the first half of 2024 and discuss with NISRA.