Venue: Department Taoiseach
Date: 19 February, 2014
The following members attended: Dr. Patricia O’Hara, (Chairperson), Mr. John Callinan, Mr. Michael McGrath and Mr. Pádraig Dalton.
Dr. Steve MacFeeley and Ms. Jennifer Banim were also in attendance. Mr. Donal Kelly acted as Secretary.
Item 1: Minutes of September 11th, 2014 (NSB 2014/1/2)
The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted without amendment.
Item 2: Director General’s progress report (NSB 2014/1/3)
The Director General briefed the Board on recent developments within CSO.
There was some discussion of the CSO’s data provision for the MIP scorecard and the Department of Finance’s possible need for background detail or further disaggregation of the data behind the indicators. CSO indicated that it has had consultations recently with the main data users in this area and is working to address additional user needs where possible.
The Board expressed concern about the implication of the FRIBS regulation and the risks both for official statistics and for the wider system. The Board requested that CSO should prepare a note on this regulation for its next meeting.
The Board welcomed the proposed introduction of monthly unemployment estimates but emphasised the need to maintain a consistent series and communicate clearly with users about the proposed methodological changes. CSO signalled its intention to have a comprehensive consultation process in advance of the first release in June 2014.
Item 3: Appointment of new Board members
There was a discussion about the four vacancies in Board membership which have existed since October 2013. It was acknowledged that the existence of these vacancies restricts the scope of the Board’s work. It is important that they be filled as soon as possible, not least because the board needs to develop a new Strategy for Statistics during 2014.
There was also a short discussion about the possibility of inviting non-Board members to future meetings to participate in items relevant to the national data strategy, on which they might have specific expertise.
Item 4: Update on CSO resources
The budgetary and staffing profile of the CSO over the past three years was outlined and discussed.
The Board discussed the difficulties imposed on CSO by budgetary constraints, particularly in the context of ongoing retirements at senior level. The Board encouraged CSO to continue to articulate the systemic benefits of an adequately staffed and resourced statistical system, and to continue to liaise with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to manage threats to critical statistical areas, and to fill key staff vacancies.
Item 5: Any other business
The Chair welcomed Jennifer Banim to the meeting and congratulated her on her recent promotion to Assistant Director General of the CSO.
The date of the next Board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday the 25th of March. It was agreed that the board would sit for a half day to allow for a full briefing of the new board members expected to be appointed by then.