National Statistics Board
Venue: Department of the Taoiseach
Date: Thursday 23rd April, 2015
The following Board members attended:
Dr. Patricia O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr. Tom Geraghty, Ms. Rowena Dwyer, Dr. Helen Johnston, Mr. John Callinan, Mr. Gerard O’Neill, Mr. John McCarthy and Mr. Pádraig Dalton.
Mr. Joe Treacy, Dr. Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Mr. Richard McMahon and Ms. Jennifer Banim (CSO Senior Management) were also in attendance.
Mr. Donal Kelly acted as Secretary. Ms. Claire Hanley attended as incoming Secretary.
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed with two amendments.
The Director General briefed the Board on a number of recent developments within CSO and at European level.
System of Health Accounts
The first transmission of SHA 2013 results to Eurostat is scheduled for May 2015 on a voluntary basis, with transmission of SHA for 2014 required under regulation by April 2016. The tables will be published in Quarter 3 2015 nationally following the Eurostat validation process.
Sector allocation of Irish Water
The CSO has sent the necessary information and documentation to Eurostat who will make the final sector classification decision on Irish Water. As the Eurostat decision was not made in time for the March 2015 EDP transmission, a provisional sector allocation for Irish Water to General Government sector was made.
The Board noted the provisional classification of Irish Water for the March 2015 EDP transmission and await the final sector classification decision from Eurostat.
Treatment of Aircraft leasing in Ireland’s External Trade, Balance of Payments and National Accounts Statistics
Due to amendments to the regulations governing External Trade statistics, the recording of purchases and sales of aircraft and ships has moved to a “change of economic ownership basis”. The change in the basis for recording this type of trade means that purchases of aircraft by aircraft leasing companies resident in Ireland will now be recorded in Ireland’s imports of goods statistics.
The new treatment will be incorporated into the Q1/2015 releases in June and will affect the External Trade balance, the BOP Current Account Balance and be carried through to the National Accounts statistics. Back data under the new treatment to 2000 will be provided at the time of the Q1/2015 releases.
The Board discussed the change in the treatment of Aircraft Leasing and the impact of this change on the time series of affected macroeconomic variables.
National Employment Survey
A project to update the 2009 National Employment Survey (NES) data using Revenue returns was completed and this provided some results for 2010 (EU structure of earnings returns and public-private pay comparison for 2010).
An additional analysis of the NES for 2009-2010, which was requested by the Troika, will be made available on the CSO website on 27th April 2015. The analysis includes additional breakdowns of the econometric analysis of the public-private sector pay gap to distinguish (a) excluding experience as an explanatory variable and (b) deducting the public sector pension levy from gross earnings.
The CSO is currently completing a project to compile more recent NES statistics from administrative data sources, without the need for survey collection from enterprises.
The Board welcomed the current project to compile more recent NES statistics from administrative data sources which was presented at the recent CSO seminar on Administrative Data.
The next Census of Population will be held on 24th April 2016. The preparations for the Census are continuing with the recruitment process commencing for the first layer of senior managerial positions for the field force. A further 440 field managers will be recruited towards the end of the year in advance of the 4,700 enumerators in early 2016.
The publication of recorded crime statistics has been temporarily suspended by the CSO. This decision has been made on foot of the Garda Inspectorate report on Crime Investigation, published on the 11th November 2014, which raised issues that may have an impact on level and classification of CSO recorded crime statistics. The CSO is therefore currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the findings of the Garda Inspectorate report to assess the extent to which the findings of the Inspectorate are reflected in the data made available to the CSO for the compilation of recorded crime statistics.
The CSO is chairing an expert group which is examining the recommendations on crime statistics contained in the Garda Inspectorate Report. This group is reviewing crime counting, crime recording and crime detections rules, having regard to best practice in comparable jurisdictions.
The CSO will conduct a Crime and Victimisation survey as part of the Q3 Quarterly National Household Survey.
The Board noted the temporary suspension, by the CSO, of the recorded crime statistics publication pending a review of the findings of the Garda Inspectorate report by the CSO.
Fourth CSO Seminar on Administrative Data
The CSO hosted a seminar on 20th April last in Dublin Castle which showcased research on employment based on administrative data sources. The seminar, opened by Pat O'Hara, was very well attended and very positive feedback was received from participants.
The Board welcomed the CSO seminar on Administrative Data and supported the continuation of such seminars, noting their value in demonstrating how the use of administrative data can deliver better data for policy-making as well as helping to make the public service more efficient and cost effective.
Household Survey Development Project
The contract for the delivery of the telephone interviewing element of the project was awarded in March 2015 to SouthWestern Services based in Clonakilty. The next phase of the project involves a live test of the new call centre environment using households that previously participated in the Quarterly National Household Survey.
European Statistics Code of Practice Peer Review
The Peer Review visit took place from 23rd to 27th March. The reviewers met the NSB on the first day of the review. The CSO has received the first draft of the report which highlights a number of innovative practices - publication of open data, use of StatBank to publish statistics from other national producers, introduction of electronic releases, use of payroll software to automate EHECS returns, and introduction of the Diploma in Official Statistics for Policy Evaluation. The draft recommendations cover four broad categories - strengthening the CSO's co-ordination role and the infrastructure for official statistics, establishing a process-oriented statistical system with a strong quality management element, enhancing user engagement, and improving the use of resources.
The Board discussed the main recommendations of the draft Peer Review report.
A Transformation Programme Board has been established at CSO and held its inaugural meeting in April 2015.
A number of staff recruitment competitions have been completed in the CSO over the past number of months.
A first draft of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey was considered at the Systems Subgroup of secretaries general of the Civil Service Management Board on Thursday the 16th April.
The first meeting of the European Statistical System Vision Implementation Network (VIN) took place on 14th April 2015. This network of senior representatives from each NSI advises Eurostat on the portfolio of projects being implemented under the ESS Vision 2020.
National Postcodes System (Eircode)
The roll-out of the National Postcodes System (Eircode) is due to take place mid-2015 whereby every address in Ireland will be allocated a unique 7-digit postcode.
The Board discussed the imminent introduction of Eircodes and stressed their importance in a statistical context. To ensure widespread acceptability and usage of the codes the Board emphasised that a strong communications strategy at the time of their introduction would be vital.
A number of staff recruitment competitions have been completed in the CSO over the past number of months. There have been difficulties in recruiting Statisticians due to market competition and there is a growing need to recruit specialists such as Data Scientists.
John Dunne (CSO) presented the work of the Administrative Data Centre which highlighted the opportunities of using Administrative Data within the Irish Statistical System; Big Data and the Sandbox; Open data linking; Researcher access to data.
The Board agreed Thursday 10th September 2015 as a possible date to launch the NSB Strategy 2015-2020. A number of speakers will be invited to present at the seminar.
The Board thanked Donal Kelly for his work as Secretary to the NSB and welcomed Claire Hanley who will take on the role.
The next meeting of the Board will take place on June 30th 2015 at the Department of the Taoiseach.