Venue: Department of the Taoiseach
Date: April 21, 2010 at 11:00
Dr Patricia O’Hara chaired the meeting. The following members attended: Ms Mary Doyle, Professor Philip Lane, Mr Fergal O’Brien, Mr Gerry O’Hanlon, Mr Paul Sweeney.
CSO Assistant Directors Ms Siobhán Carey, Mr Pádraig Dalton, and Mr Bill Keating also attended. Apologies were received from Mr Con Lucey and Mr Michael McGrath. Mr Adrian Redmond acted as Secretary.
The minutes were agreed without amendment.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Board had responded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources referring to the statistical value of postcodes, and also that the Board had expressed its condolences to the family of former Board member Mr Cathal O’Loghlin who passed away recently.
The CPI Electronic Data Capture system went live in February 2010. The report from the National Consumer Price Index Review Group was published on 11th March and the CSO has begun working on its 27 recommendations. The report from the EU HICP Compliance audit, published at the end of March, was generally favourable but made 11 recommendations, which have now been incorporated into the Prices Division work plan.
From 2010, the Census of Industrial Production, the Annual Services Inquiry and the Building & Construction Inquiry will be published as a single summary report “Business in Ireland” rather than being published individually.
A forthcoming CSO study on enterprise response burden, using the DETI standard Cost Model, will show that CSO imposes a total burden on enterprises of between €7m and €10 million per annum, or 0.3% to 0.5% of the total administrative burden.
The new Transport Statistics Group met for the first time on March 30th. A North-South Transport Liaison group has also been established and this group will meet for the first time in May.
Staffing resources are leading to threats in some key areas. New staff are required for the Census of Population to handle the recruitment operation; in the area of tourism statistics, the field-force is dangerously reduced; and delays in approvals for staffing have hampered meeting the international timeline for the PIAAC field trial.
The response to the public consultation on the type and range of outputs to be made available from Census 2011 was disappointing. However, a seminar dealing with the proposed treatment of vacant dwellings in Census 2011 on 15th April was well attended and supportive of the CSO's plans.
Details were also provided of the Lean Six Sigma exercise reviewing Trade statistics, which began in January 2010 and is scheduled for completion in mid-May, of proposals for a new Council regulation to amend the previous regulation dealing with the quality of Excessive Deficit Procedure statistics, and of new measures in the design of the earnings survey to improve timeliness.
There was some discussion of the enterprise response burden. The Chairperson said that this should be a topic for a forthcoming Board meeting. A short paper could summarise initiatives taken and planned, explain how it fits in with the High-Level Group on Business Regulation and with the EU context, and discuss the importance of memorandums of understanding and of a unique business identifier. The Intrastat trade thresholds were also discussed. It was noted that the legislation allows some flexibility, and it was felt that, given the need to monitor an export-led recovery, now would not be an opportune time to significantly raise the thresholds.
The Chairperson asked that the CSO response to the ORP report, discussed at the previous Board meeting, be circulated to members in advance of the next meeting.
Mr. Dalton presented the paper for this topic. While much progress has been made and many initiatives are planned, he highlighted two particular issues. First, the ISS is a concept, and it’s difficult to get people to buy into a concept. Second, the perception is that the NSB strategy is only about statistics, and the CSO is the only active advocate of the strategy.
The Chairperson said that the paper was enlightening and provocative, and that it raised some key issues for the Board and the system.
It was noted that only a minority of Departments had produced a data/statistics strategy. There was a case for targeting the main Departments that had not yet complied.
It was agreed that the Statistics Act was, essentially, CSO-centric, and that consideration should be give to legislative change that would provide a basis for the ISS. The Board will return to this matter at a future meeting.
The Director General summarised some of the issues. There were two broad approaches to the MIP report: working from first principles — starting by choosing what indicators to use —would be a long process; the alternative, more pragmatic, approach would be to start with the existing MIP and concentrate on coverage and presentation.
The Board discussed the options. It was agreed that there was a need to get the input of key outside individuals. The Board should discuss a substantive proposal at its next meeting, and in the meantime NESC would also give some further consideration to the issue.
The next meeting will be in June.