Venue: Department of the Taoiseach, Sycamore Room, Government Buildings, D02 R583
Date: Wednesday December 5, 2018 at 10.00am
Item 6: Any other business
National Statistics Board
Venue: Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings
Date: Wednesday 5 December 2018
Members present: Dr. Patricia O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr. Gerard O’Neill, Mr. John Shaw, Mr. John McCarthy, Dr. Eimear Cotter, Mr. Gerard Brady, Mr. John Martin and Mr. Pádraig Dalton.
Non-members in attendance: Paul Morrin (CSO Senior Management) and Ms. Claire Hanley (Secretary). Ms. Deirdre Cullen (Department of Education and Skills) attended for item 5 of the agenda.
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.
The Director General briefed the Board on a number of recent developments within CSO and at European level. Specific issues were selected for further discussion.
Civil Service Renewal (CSR) Action 24 update: Improving how data is collected, managed and shared
The Board were updated on the outcome of the CSMB discussion on Action 24 of the CSRP at its meeting on November 30, 2018. The CSMB discussed the level of Eircode coverage on key Public Sector Bodies data holdings, and there was strong support from members for action to improve Eircode capture. The proposal on the introduction of an internal administrative Unique Business Identifier for use within the Public Service, was also agreed by the CSMB.
The Board discussed the importance of permanent unique identifier coverage on PSB data holdings and fully support the views taken by the CSMB. The Board will continue to monitor the discussion closely and the actions taken, particularly efforts to improve Eircode capture.
Pathfinder Projects and Horizontal Reports
The Board were updated on the ongoing work of the pathfinder project team which has expanded to include a graduate and two seconded economists from HEA and SOLAS working on the education sector. Improvements to the housing data are envisaged, as better data based on Eircode implementation becomes available. In addition, Ordnance Survey Ireland are considering a ‘pre-Eircode’ solution to integration of housing data at CSO’s request.
The Board welcomed the publication of the Institutional Sector Accounts in November and the new publication profiling trade with the UK which was published in October. The Board were updated on the recent EDP statistics course which was run by Eurostat in Dublin in June and November, and included CSO nominated issues relating to the treatment and classification of housing in government finance statistics.
Survey on Prevalence of Sexual Violence
The Board discussed the recent decision to assign to CSO, the development and delivery of a significant new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland and discussed the difficulties in conducting such a complex and sensitive survey, particularly in relation to skills and resources. It is envisaged that the project will take in the region of five years to complete.
The Board were updated on the recent meeting of the CSO Director General with the new An Garda Síochána Commissioner and ongoing meetings between CSO and other staff, including the newly appointed Chief Data Officer. A Quality Improvement Proposal, outlining to An Garda Síochána the actions which the CSO see as critical to improving the quality of PULSE data for statistical purposes, has been communicated by the CSO and there is acceptance that the lifting of the reservation will be a multi-year process. The CSO is due to publish a third Review of the Quality of Recorded Crime Statistics based on 2017 data provided by An Garda Síochána, by end-2018.
Census of Population
The Board were informed of the Pilot Census which was conducted by the CSO on September 23, 2018. The objective of this exercise was to test new questions for possible inclusion in the 2021 census form. The results from the 10,500 completed forms will be analysed and presented to the Census Advisory Group which is a representative group of the key users of census data.
Business Statistics Transformation Project
The Business Statistics Transformation project, which saw the re-organisation of the area of Business Statistics within the CSO by integrating short-term and long-term projects and thereby creating a balanced workload for staff, was shortlisted for the Civil Service and Excellence Awards in 2018.
The Board commended the project as a very successful exercise in change management.
The Board discussed the significant progress in the Council Working Party on Statistics (CWPS) on the debate around the exchange of microdata as proposed under the EU FRIBS Regulation. The text has now been agreed by the CWPS and includes further provisions, one of which is to allow for other statistical uses of the intra-EU trade data. Ireland has raised concerns at the ESSC Partnership Group and has set out its concerns regarding the divergence between statistical principles in the ESSC and decisions taken at the CWPS, in a document to be discussed by the ESSC Partnership Group in December 2018.
The Board were updated on the ongoing work within the CSO in relation to technology and welcomed the approval by Government of the Public Service Data Strategy 2018-2022.
The CSO 2019 budget has been agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey (CSEES)
The CSO Employee Engagement Action Plan for 2017-2019 in response to the 2017 Civil Service Employee Engagement results was approved by Management Board in November 2018 and circulated along with other Government Departments Action plans to the Civil Service Renewal Programme office of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The action plan, which was based on feedback from a detailed programme of staff engagement at CSO, addressed the survey themes of Involvement Climate, Innovation Climate, Organisational Support, Career Development & Mobility, Performance Standards and Public Perception. Quarterly monitoring of implementation of actions will take place.
Communications and Dissemination
The Board welcomed the new digital communications strategy which has been developed at CSO and sets out a ‘user centred’ approach for delivering high quality and fit for purpose digital communication services for CSO customers into the future.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The Board were updated on the ongoing work in the CSO relating to the requirements under the GDPR. The initial focus is on ensuring that there are valid transparency notices in place for all surveys to meet the requirements of Articles 13 and 14 of the Regulation.
The Board discussed the developments in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) on a new CSO tourism statistics project using anonymised data from Mobile Network Operators.
Social Survey Programme and Non-Response Rates
At the June 2018 meeting, the Board discussed the CSO’s social survey programme and issues around increasing levels of non-response for household surveys. As requested, the CSO reverted to the Board on both issues at the December 2018 meeting.
Due to the introduction of SAVI, the CSO will need to take stock of available resources for the inclusion of additional questions on the household surveys. New items, such as the gig economy, have already been included and the CSO agreed to come back to the Board once the situation has been further clarified.
The CSO presented a paper to the Board, showing the level of non-response for household surveys for Ireland compared to other EU countries. Countries where rates of non-response are very low, such as Germany and Cyprus, have mandatory inclusion in surveys such as the Labour Force Survey. The Board welcomed the paper, which showed Ireland’s non-response rate consistent with other EU countries, highlighting that the issue is not a national one. The Board discussed ways in which this issue could be addressed including a communications strategy by the CSO and exploring possible changes to methodology.
The Board were updated on CSO increased staff resources and recruitment activities – both current and planned for 2018/2019 – and discussed the continuing recruitment and retention issues throughout the ISS.
Item 4: Lessons learnt from Revenue ISSCoP audit (NSB 2018-5-5)
Paul Morrin (CSO) presented aspects of the process of the Revenue ISSCoP audit, including the lessons learnt and the next steps. Of the 48 Revenue statistical products covered by ISSCoP, it was sufficient to audit 5 due to the commonalities which exist between systems. Coverage is a key decision on all ISSCoP audits and needs to be defined at the beginning of the audit process. The process, which is long and resource intensive, will need to be tightened for future roll out to Public Sector Bodies (circa. 80). As the ISSCoP principles are a subset of the ESCoP, there are components missing and this will need to be addressed by expanding the ISSCoP list of principles.
Additional resources have been assigned to this area within CSO. 14 Public Sector Bodies have committed to the process, with five self-assessment questionnaires completed. Audits have been agreed for 2019 with two Departments and two agencies.
The Board welcomed progress in this area and stressed the importance of branding official statistics with the ISSCoP logo to recognise statistical outputs as being of the highest quality and ensure public trust.
Deirdre Cullen (Department of Education and Skills) presented an overview of the work being carried out on the geocoding of DEIS schools at the Department as part of a review of the system of identification of schools. In relation to Eircode input at source, coverage has grown since 2016 but levels remain low. Roll out of a new API for Eircode capture, scheduled to take place early 2019, will improve the coverage on data holdings.
The Board discussed the importance of Eircode capture on data holdings to support evidence-based decision making and welcomed the presentation which highlighted the difficulties which exist at Department level.
The next meeting of the Board will take place on February 13, 2019 at the Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings.