NATIONAL STATISTICS BOARD
Venue: Department of An Taoiseach
Date: 14 June 2012
The following members attended:
Dr. Pat O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr. John Callinan, Mr. Michael McGrath, Mr. Ciaran Dolan, Mr. Paul Sweeney, Prof. Philip Lane, Mr. Padraig Dalton,
Apologies were received from Mr. Fergal O’Brien
Mr. Aidan Punch, Mr. Joe Treacy and Dr. Steve MacFeely were also in attendance. Mr. Ciaran Dooly acted as secretary. The Board congratulated Padraig Dalton on his appointment as Director General of the CSO and welcomed him to the Board.
Item 1: Minutes of April NSB meeting (NSB 2012/3/2)
The minutes from the previous meeting were adopted with two minor amendments.
Item 2: Report on General Government Debt Statistics (NSB 2012/3/4) (NSB 2012/3/5)
The Board reviewed the two reports, prepared by the Department of Finance and Deloitte, which examined the €3.6bn discrepancy in General Government Debt. The Board placed particular emphasis on the quality and detail of the Finance report.
The Board acknowledged that the discrepancy was due to human error and insufficient formal procedures between the agencies involved, and that there was no implication about any intention to mislead or manipulate data. The Board was advised that the CSO would take over sole responsibility for calculating the Gross Government Debt with effect from March 2013 and were assured that the appropriate checks and balances had been built into the process. A General Government Dept (GGD) Group has been established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports. The Board requested regular updates from this Group, and the Government Finance Statistics Liaison Committee (GFSLC) which oversees the compilation of government finance statistics and is chaired by the CSO, as well as updates on developments in the upgrade of ICT processes and the quality management frameworks across the whole Irish Statistical System.
Item 3: Director General Presentation (NSB 2012/3/6)
The new Director General Mr. Padraig Dalton made a presentation to the Board on the challenges and opportunities facing the Central Statistics Office. The board welcomed the presentation and the importance placed on: the development of the Irish Statistical System; deeper engagement with other Government Departments; increased focus on engagement with users of statistics; and to need to manage change in the context of continual development. The Board agreed that the core themes of the presentation should be reflected in the mid-term review of the current NSB strategy.
Item 4: Director Generals Report (NSB 2012/4/7)
The first report from Census 2011, This is Ireland Part 1, was published on March 29, 2012. Under a joint initiative with the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) at NUI Maynooth the data were simultaneously released in interactive mapping format. Three further reports have followed (“Town and Country, “Population classified by Area” and “Older and Younger: An age profile of Ireland”) while the next major report, “This is Ireland Part 2,” covering socio-economic variables, travel, disability, health and carers, will be published on 28 June.
The census small area data (for 18,488 Small Areas and 3,409 EDs, along with other geography), will be disseminated through a CSO developed interactive mapping facility allowing users to download a complete report for any area.
A Household Survey Development Project has begun with a detailed implementation plan and a business case is being drafted. The aim is to transform the methods by which household surveys are undertaken which will allow for new demands to be met.
The Irish Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) data set was lodged with the IEA (Consortium) on the target date of 31/05/2012. Our preliminary response rate is 71%, substantially above the minimum requirements of 50%.
A code of practice and standards for the gathering and use of data for statistical purposes (Public Service Action 2.10 (i) of the Public Sector Reform Plan) is being developed by the CSO. The code will cover responsibilities for those compiling or using statistics in the Public Sector and will be based on the European Statistics Code of Practice. The Code of Practice will be presented to the NSB in September 2012.
A new monthly Services Output Index was launched in May. This is the first step towards the compilation of a full Services Production Index.
The Board were informed that the winners of the John Hooper prize for statistics were from Blackrock College and that the EHECS section in the CSO had won a Taoiseach’s award for public service excellence.
Meeting with ISSDA (NSB 2012/3/7)
The Chairperson briefed the Board on the second meeting between the Irish Social Science Data Archive staff and data producers which was hosted by the NSB. Arising out of this the Board discussed the wider issue of the interface between data archiving and statistics.
Update of Progress on NSB Strategy 2009-2014 (NSB 2012/3/8)
The Board reviewed progress on the NSB Strategy 2009-2014. The publication of the new page on short term economic indicators on the CSO website was welcomed as was the progress on environmental statistics. The need for enhanced cooperation between the various agencies in developing the 2nd National Travel Survey, in order to avoid duplication and ensure coherence, was noted by the Board.
The Board agreed to meet again on 13 September 2012.