NSB 2012 3/2
NATIONAL STATISTICS BOARD
Venue: CSO Cork
Date: 5 April 2012
The following members attended:
Dr Patricia O’Hara (Chairperson), Mr Michael McGrath, Mr Fergal O’Brien, Mr Ciaran Dolan, Mr John Callinan, Mr Gerry O’Hanlon.
Apologies were received from Prof Philip Lane and Mr Paul Sweeney.
Assistant Director Generals, Mr Aidan Punch and Mr Padraig Dalton and Directors Mr Joe Treacy and Mr Steve MacFeely were also in attendance. Mr Ciaran Dooly acted as Secretary. Mr John Callinan, Assistant Secretary represented the Department of the Taoiseach. The Chairperson welcomed John Callinan and Ciaran Dooly to their first meeting of the NSB.
Meeting with CSO Partnership Committee
The formal NSB meeting was preceded by a meeting between the Board and the CSO Partnership Committee in which the Board outlined its work, elaborating on the issues in its recent publication The Irish Statistical System: the Way Forward and Joined Up Government Needs Joined Up Data. This was followed by presentations from the CSO on its Statement of Strategy and the Lean Six Sigma business process improvement projects, and a discussion. The Board congratulated the CSO on the significant progress made over the past few years, highlighting the production of many new statistical outputs, the development of formal relationships with key holders of administrative data and, in particular, the new approach to publication and dissemination of Census 2011 and publication of the Environmental Indicators.
Following the meeting, the Board had a brief discussion on the use of data in the wider public sector and the need for a broader implementation of the Statistical Code of Practice. The Board agreed to discuss this issue, along with data protection concerns, as a substantive item at a forthcoming board meeting.
Item 1: Minutes of February NSB meeting (NSB 2012/2/2)
The minutes were accepted without amendment.
Item 2: Director General’s Report (NSB 2012/2/3)
The final population figures based on Census 2011 were published on March 29, 2012. There will be an additional twelve outputs in the form of reports and releases published by the end of December 2012. The coverage from the publication has been positive and the strategic alliance with AIRO (All-Island Research Observatory) in NUIM has been very positive in terms of data visualisation.
The first results of the 2009/2010 Household Budget Survey were published in March and give an updated profile of household expenditure in Ireland. Preliminary indications of the latter were also used to update the weighting basis of the CPI and these were incorporated into the rebased index that was launched in February. The Board was advised that the Household Budget Survey was required to be conducted every five years and the CSO was currently examining options for reforming the methods by which all household surveys were conducted.
The final results from the 2010 EU SILC were published recently which provided indications of the impact of the recession on households. Initiatives are being implemented to improve the timeliness of the EU SILC release.
Internal and External reviews into the consolidation error of €3.6bn in Ireland’s EDP data are underway. It is expected that both reports will issue to the Minister and Government and to the Committee on Public Accounts. The NSB agreed to discuss this item formally when the reports become available.
A seminar took place in the Coach House, Dublin Castle on 23rd February 2012 covering statistics produced by the CSO's Balance of Payments division. In addition the Central Bank and the CSO made a presentation on non-mortgage debt to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.
A new report Environmental Indicators Ireland 2012 has been published and contains a broad rage of indicators relating to environmental conditions. The Board expressed its satisfaction that this publication addresses one of the recommendations in the current NSB Strategy 2009-2014 (Recommendation 13) and pointed out that the development of environmental statistics should continue to be a priority for the CSO (Recommendation 12).
The Board was informed that the position of Director General of the CSO will be advertised on April 13 2012.
Item 3: Census of Population 2016 Update (NSB 2012/2/4)
A review of the options for Census 2016 has been completed and a memo to Government has been submitted seeking approval for a Census in 2016. The Board was informed that a wider consultation with key users was undertaken which confirmed the demand for a mid decade census.
The Board re-emphasised the importance of holding a Census in 2016.
Item 4: Mid-term review of NSB strategy 2009-2014 (NSB 2012/2/4)
The Board noted that a mid-term review of the NSB strategy was due and agreed that the general approach should consist of an appraisal of progress to date on the priorities in the strategy, consideration of the implications of what has/has not been achieved, and suggestions for refocusing the strategic vision for the Irish Statistical System, in the light of these and of changes in the external environment over the past few years.
The Board welcomed the timing of review emphasising the importance of reviewing objectives to take account of the changed economic circumstances. Members will be asked to input to the various drafts and it is envisaged that the review will be published in 2012.
Item 5: Update of Progress on NSB Strategy 2009-2014
The Board noted the assignment of responsibility for Action 2.10 (i) and (iii) in the Public Sector Reform Plan (which reflect NSB priorities, as set out in its recent publications) to the CSO and asked that they be kept informed on actions in relation to the development of a code of practice and standards, statistical infrastructure and review of the legislation. It was noted that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are the lead agency on Action 2.10 (ii).
The Board noted the current position in relation to postcodes. The Board also noted the publication of the EU Regulation on Environmental – Economic Accounting (691/2011) and re-emphasised the importance of environmental statistics. The Board was also informed of the adoption at the UNSC of a standard for Environmental Economic Accounts.
In regard to Recommendation 18, the Board was informed that the number of key short term economic indicators has increased to 27.
Item 6: Any Other Business
The Board acknowledged Director General Gerry O’Hanlon’s upcoming retirement. In paying tribute to him, the Chairperson and Members thanked him for his support and service to the Board and his contribution to the development of Irish Statistics throughout his career.