Venue: Department of the Taoiseach, Room 308, Government Buildings, D02 R583
Date: Thursday January 26, 2023
Discussion on Article 7 Competent Body of the EU Data Governance Act
Presentation on the Developing a Social Acceptance Strategy:
National Statistics Board
The meeting took place in the Government Building and was a hybrid meeting.
Date: Thursday January 26, 2023
Members present: Ms. Anne Vaughan (Chairperson), Ms. Eithne Fitzgerald, Dr. Eimear Cotter, Mr. John Martin, Mr. John Shaw, Mr. Gerard Brady, Mr. John McCarthy and Mr. Pádraig Dalton.
Non-members in attendance: Ms. Frankie Kay (CSO), Mr. Paul Morrin (CSO), Mr. Richard McMahon (CSO), Ms. Claire Hanley (attended as outgoing Secretary) and Brian Cahill (attended as incoming Secretary).
Mr. Tim Linehan (CSO) attended for item 4, Mr. John Conway* (CSO) attended for item 5 and Ms. Elaine O’Mahoney (CSO) attended for item 6.
Item 1: Minutes of NSB meeting December 8, 2022 (NSB 2023-1-2)
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.
Item 2: CSO Director General’s Report to NSB (NSB 2023-1-3)
The Board noted and commended the CSO on the extent of updates within the DG’s Report.
The Board discussed some of the items contained in the DG’s Report:
The Board enquired about the progress with the Unique Business Identifier (UBI). The DG confirmed that the UBI exists and that the UBI must now be operationalised across the public sector. To utilise the UBI each body must go through a governance process with the Data Governance Board.
The Board congratulated the CSO on the production and planned publication of “Flash” or Preliminary GDP estimates at T+30 days. The increased timeliness is a significant innovation and is very beneficial to users and policy makers. The Board agreed that it is important for CSO to communicate the preliminary nature of the results and the balance between timeliness and quality. The DG informed the Board that the Preliminary GDP estimates will be published as a ‘Frontier’ output.
The Board welcomed the release Tourism Satellite Accounts.
The Board enquired as to the Census 2022 publication schedule and were informed that publication will commence in May 2023 and will continue with regular publications to the end of 2023.
Regarding the implementation of standardised classifications across the ISS, the Board were informed that there are 17 core EU variables across the broad socio-demographic/economic domain with existing standardised classifications. These classifications will be the starting point for the implementation of standardised classifications.
The Board again noted the importance of Eircode as a public good and to the successful roll out of the NDI. The Board sent a follow-up letter to DECC in January 2023 to reiterate the importance of the Eircode as a unique identifier in official data and asked that they examine the free availability of Eircode to public sector bodies.
The Board asked for more detail on the Equality Data Strategy that is being developed and if they could be informed of EU statistical regulatory requirements that are due to come into force.
Item 3: Article 7 on “Competent Body” of the EU Data Governance Act (NSB 2023-1-4)
The Board were updated on the CSO’s deliberative process on and issues relating to the role of “competent body” under Article 7 of the European Data Governance Act. The Board were informed that DECC are responsible for the transposition of legislation into Irish law and the transpositional approach taken by DECC will affect the details of what would be involved for the CSO if they took on the role of the competent body.
The Board heard that the competent body’s role is an operational one, facilitating safe, secure access to data, where the data owner, a Public Sector Body, has voluntarily agreed to make the data available to a third party.
The role would not require the CSO to make any data collected under the Statistics Act available and indeed researcher access to such data is already comprehensively dealt with in the statistical legislation. The CSO has identified several points which require further legal clarification in the context of the CSO potentially taking on this Article 7 competent body role, which they have raised with the Attorney General’s Office.
The Board noted that from a “one system” wide view the CSO are likely best placed to take on the role of the competent body.
The Board agreed that the CSO must satisfy themselves with the potential risks, primarily reputational in nature, involved in taking on the role of the competent body, which will be dependent on DECC’s approach to the transposition of the legislation and on the legal advice received from the AGO.
Item 4: Deliberative Process on the Future of Census (NSB 2023-1-5)
Richard McMahon and Tim Linehan provided the Board with a summary of a CSO paper on possible future options for Census taking in Ireland post 2027. The Board heard that a census is a count of the population and that the method by which the population is counted can changed over time.
The Board welcomed the paper and had a preliminary discussion on the details and implications of the various options presented. The Board noted that each option outlined in the paper has associated benefits and risks. The Board also noted that the frontier publication Irish Population Estimates from Administrative Data Sources (IPEADS) is fundamental to each of the options outlined and its importance must be communicated and recognised as such.
The Board agreed to plan towards having a Seminar on the future of Census in Q4 2023 or Q1 2024. The seminar would gather input from a wide cross section of users.
Item 5: CSO Cloud Strategy (NSB 2023-1-6)
Frankie Kay and John Conroy provided the Board with a summary of the draft CSO Cloud Strategy. The Board welcomed the draft strategy and noted the anticipated role that Cloud Technology is expected to play into the future. They noted that any transition to the Cloud could only happen on a phased basis and would face challenges including: the establishment of governance structures, communicating the safety of cloud technology, upskilling staff and engagement with key stakeholders which is seen as particularly important.
Item 6: Presentation on Developing a Social Acceptance Strategy from Elaine O’Mahoney, CSO (NSB 2023-1-7)
Elaine O’Mahoney presented to the Board on how the CSO are developing a Social Acceptance Strategy. The Board thanked Elaine for her and her team’s work in this area and reiterated the importance of communicating the benefits Official Statistics provides to society. The Board suggested that, like the Methodology chapter, publications could also have a Trust or Ethics chapter to supplement the publication.
The Board agreed that the CSO must continue to communicate clearly on how their statistics are produced and noted that the majority of statistics currently produced by CSO are from mixed or integrated sources, which must be made clear to users and the public as is currently the case.
The next NSB will take place on March 29th and will focus on statistics on disability.
Since the change of Government and the appointment of a new Minister of State in the Department of the Taoiseach the CSO are required to produce a new Statement of Strategy within six months. The DG outlined the CSO’s plans to consult with stakeholders and to develop the new strategy which will build on the existing strategy.
The Board thanked Claire Hanley for all her work with and huge commitment to the NSB over the past eight years and wished her well and continued success in her career in the CSO.