Venue: Department Taoiseach
Date: February 10th, 2012 at 10:30
The following members attended: Dr Patricia O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr Michael McGrath, Mr Fergal O’Brien, Mr Paul Sweeney, Mr Gerry O’Hanlon
Mr Gerry Brady acted as Secretary on behalf of Mr Ciaran Dooly. Apologies were received from Mr Ciaran Dolan and Professor Philip Lane. CSO Assistant Director General Mr Aidan Punch and Directors Joe Treacy and Steve MacFeely attended. Ms Mary-Clare O’Sullivan attended on behalf of the Department of the Taoiseach pending the appointment of a representative from the Department.
Item 1: Minutes of November 28th, 2011 (NSB 2012/1/2)
The minutes were accepted with a minor change.
Item 2: Director General’s progress report (NSB 2012/1/3)
The final population figures based on Census 2011 will be published in the Principal Demographic Results on March 29th, 2012. There will be thirteen outputs in the form of reports and releases published between the end of March and December 2012. The majority of census tables will be released in web (interactive) table format only using the PC-Axis software. The Small Area Population Statistics will also be produced using the expanded set of approximately 19,000 small areas.
A new product, entitled “Population Profiles”, will provide a summary profile for particular geographic areas, e.g. Towns, Electoral Divisions etc. It will comprise a two page report covering a selection of key variables, a small map, some summary tables and charts.
A Memorandum for Government seeking a decision on a census in 2016 will be submitted shortly. The CSO conducted a canvass of users in late 2011 to determine the level of demand and type of user requirements for a census in 2016. There was a strong demand expressed for small areas statistics. Regarding the proposed methodology for 2016, a no change approach would incur the least amount of expenditure in the preparatory phase. It may be possible to have essentially the same methodology as in 2011 while allowing a voluntary internet response option. While the internet take-up may be relatively low with such an approach, it would allow the CSO to make some initial preparations for an internet-driven methodology in 2021.
The Board supported the idea of a 2016 methodology which would be broadly similar to 2011 but recommended that the 2021 Census should be conducted using a methodology with the internet as the default completion method. The Board requested that its views be included in the government memorandum related to the 2016 census.
In order to meet the increasing demand for household surveys, the CSO has launched a major project to re-structure its system of household surveys over the next two to three years. In essence the objective will be to replace the existing, relatively expensive, Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) approach with a more cost-effective mixed mode approach involving Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and CAPI.
The preliminary Census of Agriculture report will be published on February 14th. The new Consumer Price Index basket and expenditure weights (based on the 2010/2011 Household Budget Survey results) will be released on February 23rd. The first, fully comprehensive report on Business in Ireland was published in January 2012 in respect of 2009. The 2010 edition will be published in autumn 2012 and will include structural data on the financial sectors for the first time, along with international comparisons. The Board asked for copies of the report to be sent to members. The 2011 edition of Women and Men in Ireland was published on 31st January 2012.
The CSO is now on YouTube, at http://www.youtube.com/csoirelandmedia. The first video is the prize-giving ceremony for the John Hooper Prize 2011. The CSO already has more than 3,300 followers on Twitter (http://twitter.com/csoIreland).
The CSO Statement of Strategy 2012-2014 has been sent to the Chief Whip's Office, for agreement at Ministerial level, and has also been sent for translation into Irish. In parallel with the strategy, the CSO has prepared an Integrated Reform Plan under the Government's Public Service Reform Plan, published in November. It highlights three internal priority projects:
- Review of options for Census 2016;
- Household surveys transformation project; and
- Ongoing reduction in the statistical burden on business.
Externally, the top items are the actions assigned to the CSO in Part 2.10 of the Public Service Reform Plan:
- Development of a code of practice and standards for statistical data across the public service; and
- Review of the legislative environment for use of statistical data.
The gross budget for the CSO in 2012 is €45.4 million, a decrease of 45% on 2011. The principal reason for the decrease is the Census collection and processing costs which were incurred in 2011. The maximum staff allocation will fall from 850 at the end of 2011 to 706 at the end of 2012. Sixteen CSO staff are due to retire before the end of February, four of them at Senior Statistician/Principal Officer level.
A meeting of the senior liaison committee of the CSO and Central Bank of Ireland took place on 3rd February 2012 in the CSO. This is an annual high level meeting which monitors the work being carried out by various sub-groups drawn from both organisations in coordinating statistical data collection and dissemination across the various domains. A seminar will take place in the Coach House, Dublin Castle on the 23rd February 2012 covering statistics produced by the CSO's Balance of Payments division. Outputs from this division include the Balance of Payments (BoP), International Investment Position, Foreign Direct investment, and International Trade in Services releases.
The first meeting of the Steering Group on the External review into the consolidation error of €3.6bn in Ireland’s EDP data was held on 3rd February. The review is to be carried out by Deloitte.
The CSO gave a presentation “The story behind the numbers” to Oireachtas members and their staff on January 18th which was very well received. The CSO will circulate a copy of the presentation to NSB members.
The CSO in cooperation with the IPA expect to launch a “Professional Diploma in Official Statistics and Policy Evaluation” this year. Details have yet to be finalised, pending approval from UCD academic council but it is expected that the CSO will teach the official statistics element and the IPA will teach the policy evaluation aspects of the curriculum. The CSO was asked to circulate information on the diploma to government departments.
Item 3: ISSDA Update (NSB 2011/6/4)
The Chairperson received a letter from the Vice-President for Research at UCD confirming their plans to incorporate the ISSDA into the library infrastructures there and welcoming the Board’s involvement in facilitating a discussion on the future of the archive. It is expected that a further meeting of interested parties will be held shortly and the Board will be kept informed of developments.
Item 4: Irish Statistical System update
The two Board reports The Irish Statistical System: The Way Forward and Joined Up Government Needs Joined Up Data were approved by Government in January and published. Work needs to begin on the preparation of an interim progress report on the NSB 2009-2014 Strategy for Statistics. This should be an item on the agenda of the next NSB meeting.
Item 5: Short-term Indicators update (NSB 2011/6/5)
An internal prototype of the Economic Indicators page has been developed following the discussion at the November 2011 NSB meeting. The CSO is consulting a number of key users about the structure and contents of this working model. It will take a number of months to bring this from prototype to final production stage; new features which need to be developed include the automatic updating of the indicators from StatBank.
Item 6: Update of Progress on NSB Strategy 2009-2014 (NSB 2011/6/6)
Good progress is being made by CSO on the preparation of a new environment indicator report. A new Regulation on satellite health accounts is being discussed in Eurostat. This would be a major data requirement on Ireland.
Item 7: Any other business
A short note on the household charge was made available to the Board. The household register that will result from the new charge could have useful statistical potential as it will have a name associated with non-unique addresses and is also linked with the geo-directory. The board expressed the view that the Director-General of the CSO should be formally consulted in advance of any new initiative which is a potential administrative data source, (EU legislation being drafted may make such consultation a legal requirement).
There was a discussion regarding recent media coverage of Crime statistics. The CSO has a close working relationship with the Gardai and are kept informed of any changes in coverage of the crime statistics.
Mary Doyle and Sinead Hanafin of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs made a presentation to the Board on the national strategy for research and data on children’s lives. This strategy emerged from work initiated by the NSB in relation to data strategies and the statistical potential of administrative data sources. The Department expressed concern that there appears to be overlap between different agencies in areas such as mapping and geo-referencing. The introduction of postcodes will be a very welcome development as it will provide a common tool for geo-coding. The Board thanked the Department for their thoughtful presentation and for producing such a comprehensive research and data strategy.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation are developing a new Research Prioritisation Exercise which will be launched in March.
The next meeting will be on April 5th in CSO Cork.