|Introduction to the Darlington Campus||Darren Morgan|
|Introduction – Cabinet Office Review||Oral update|
Prof. Denise Lievesley
|Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings|
Declarations of interest
|Meeting of 25 May 2023|
|Report from the Authority Chair||SA(23)37|
Sir Robert Chote
|Report from the Chief Executive||SA(23)38|
Prof. Sir Ian Diamond
|Report from the Director-General for Regulation||SA(23)39|
|Report from Committee Chairs|
• Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
• Regulation Committee
|Integrated Data Service||SA(23)34|
|Strategic Risk Profile||SA(23)42|
|Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23||SA(23)43|
|Any Other Business|
Next meeting: 27 July 2023, Hybrid London Boardroom
UK Statistics Authority
- Sir Robert Chote (Chair)
- Sian Jones
- Dr Jacob Abboud
- Professor Sir John Aston
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond
- Ed Humpherson
- Nora Nanayakkara
- Alison Pritchard
- Professor Dame Carol Propper
- Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Penny Young
Also in attendance
- Robert Bumpstead
- Alex O’Donoghue (Review Team)
- Sally Jones (Secretariat)
- Professor Denise Lievesley
- Mike Keoghan (for items 6 and 12)
- Sarah Moore
- Natalie Tarr (for item 13)
- Tom Taylor
- Rhys Thomas (for item 14)
- Jason Zawadzki (for item 12)
1. Introduction to the Darlington Economic Campus
- Sir Robert Chote welcomed attendees to the meeting, particularly Beth Russell, Second Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury, and Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics; Professor Denise Lievesley, who joined the meeting as the lead reviewer for the public bodies review of the Authority, and Alex O’ Donoghue (a member of the review team); and Sarah Moore attending her first Board meeting in her role as Interim Director for Communications and Digital Publishing.
- Beth Russell and Darren Morgan provided an overview of the Darlington Economic Campus. The campus, which is part of the Places for Growth programme, brings together several departments including ONS, providing an opportunity to work collaboratively and provide a wider range of career opportunities in the Northeast.
- The Board heard that the aim of the campus included making government, policy making and delivery stronger through a diverse workforce working in a dynamic environment. The campus provided opportunities for those who previously might not have joined the Civil Service bringing diversity of thought and in so doing having an impact on broader society and the public good. In order to maximise the recruitment of local talent the campus had invested in its induction and training programme and in a culture of working collaboratively.
- Board members noted their thanks for an excellent introduction to the campus.
2. Independent Review of the Authority
- Sir Robert welcomed Professor Denise Lievesley, who had been appointed to lead a review of the Authority by the Cabinet Office as part of its Public Bodies Review Programme. Sir Robert, members of the Board and Professor Sir Ian Diamond would be engaging with Professor Lievesley throughout the review.
- The meeting heard that the review would be evidence based organised into four areas identified by the Public Bodies Review Programme – Efficacy, Accountability, Governance and Efficiency. The review intended to consult widely, including seeking views from a range of stakeholders including Board members, Local Authorities, Parliament, academia, third sector and civil society, business, International Statistical Institutes, the Devolved Administrations, finance, health and economic sectors and Government Statistical Service Heads of Profession. A call to evidence was ongoing with a deadline for responses of Friday 7 July.
- Professor Lievesley noted that the range of Board papers particularly the paper on the Authority’s Strategic Risk profile, covered a number of themes being considered as part of the review including:
- the advantages and disadvantages of the production and regulatory arms within the same body;
- the strength of the current statistical system and its ability to withstand political interference;
- the role of Parliament in the statistical system;
- Devolution and the challenges presented to statistics by the different administrative systems within the Union;
- talent management across the Government Statistical Service and talent pipeline;
- user engagement and how users are informing the wider agenda;
- lessons learned from the pandemic and learning from best practice more generally; and
- the ability of the Authority to deliver in an agile way.
- Board members considered the plans and the following points were included in discussion:
- the need for the statistical system to have resilience and surge capacity to deliver in new areas of work;
- the challenges of the current funding model in relation to priorities such as population health monitoring; and
- the governance and accountability of statistics funded by other departments.
- With regard to statistical leadership, it was noted that currently very experienced senior statisticians and economists were not able to operate at Senior Civil Service level without taking on management responsibilities, and this could be an inhibiting factor. The inclusion of more Directors of Analysis on Departmental Executive Boards was a positive development, which provided the opportunity for policy makers and analysts to work together.
- The topic of misinformation, while not central to the review could be covered as part of the consideration of the Office for Statistics Regulation’s role. This linked to the importance of data literacy across government and society.
- The Board noted their thanks to Professor Lievesley. It was agreed that members could follow up with any further feedback.
- There were no apologies received.
4. Declarations of Interest
- There were no new declarations of interest.
5. Minutes and matters arising from previous meetings
- The minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 May 2023 were agreed.
6. Report from the Authority Chair [SA(23)37]
- Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) had met prior to the Board meeting and had discussed the consultation on Plans for the Transformation of Population and Migration statistics, which had launched that day (29 June).
- The Chair reported on his recent activities since the Board last met. On 28 June Sir Robert Chote alongside Ed Humpherson, Director General for the Office for Statistics Regulation, had presented at the launch of OSR’s annual report: State of the Statistical System.
- Sir Robert had exchanged correspondence on the survey conducted independently by NatCen Social Research on Public Confidence in Office Statistics 2021.
- It was noted that the September Board meeting would include an item on Consumer Prices and the Retail Prices Index.
7. Report from the Chief Executive [SA(23)38]
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond provided the Board with an overview of activity and issues since the last meeting, highlighting the following:
- the UK Health Security Agency and the future funding of the COVID-19 surveillance and the Respiratory Infection Survey;
- the commission by HM Treasury (HMT) for Sir Ian and HMT Second Permanent Secretaries, Cat Little and Sam Beckett to review and improve measurements of public sector productivity;
- the organisational security health check undertaken by the Information Security Forum against its standard of good practice for information security;
- Sir Ian had attended the launch of the ONS Manchester office, like the Darlington Economic Campus and other ONS sites it provided an opportunity to attract local talent;
- the Research Accreditation Panel (RAP) had considered and declined Digital Economy Act accreditation for the Integrated Data Service (IDS), scheduled for discussion later in the meeting);
- Sir Ian had met with the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Secretary of State for Wales regarding progress of work on the harmonisation of health data across the Union, specifically health indicators;
- the launch on 29 June of the consultation on ONS’ plans for the transformation of population and migration statistics, which would remain open until 26 October 2023.
- Board members discussed the update and commended ONS on the result of the organisational security health check.
- It was noted that there was a danger of a significant missed opportunity for public health monitoring in the UK in relation to future funding for the COVID-19 and Respiratory Infections Survey. The Board resolved to discuss the matter again at their next meeting.
- With regard to the review on public sector productivity ONS would be working with other government departments on the methodology to jointly produce the data.
8. Report from the Director General for Regulation [SA(23)39]
- Ed Humpherson provided an update on regulation activity, highlighting the launch of OSR’s annual report on the State of the Statistical System on 28 June. OSR had published a guest blog by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, The Algorithmic Transparency Recording Standard, which they had developed with the Central Digital Data Office in response to OSR’s report on Ensuring Statistical Models Command Public Confidence published in 2021.
- The Board heard that OSR had written to ONS regarding the first of its additional research articles on gender identity on 19 June, which had included OSR’s early findings from its ongoing review of gender identity data from the 2021 England and Wales Census.
9. Report from the Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee
- Sian Jones had chaired the meeting on 22 June and reported on the work of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC). Committee members had considered the Authority’s Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23 and recommended the National Statistician’s approval subject to resolution of an issue relating to lease reporting, which had since been resolved.
- Sian Jones received and welcomed the annual update from the Data Protection Officer, which provided the Committee with full assurance.
- Nora Nanayakkara reported that based on the work of the Committee during the year and assurance work carried out by external and internal auditors, it was her opinion that the Authority’s governance and control framework was generally effective. The Committee had welcomed the Moderate audit opinion by the Head of Internal Audit for a third consecutive year. The Committee had highlighted the significant improvements in risk, assurance, and governance, under the leadership and commitment of Sir Ian and the Senior Leadership Team. The Committee had commended Natalie Tarr, Head of Assurance for all her work on risk and assurance and Louise Love, Head of Internal Audit in delivering the IA Plan 2022/23.
- The Board noted their thanks to the Chair and the Committee for their work during 2022/23 and endorsed the ARAC’s Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23.
10. Report from the Chair of the Regulation Committee
- The Chair reported on the work of the Regulation Committee which had last met on 20 April. The Committee had considered:
- the draft report on OSR’s assessment of the Office for National Statistics Producer Price Inflation statistics;
- OSR’s process underpinning the de-designation of National Statistics, with a further update scheduled at the October meeting;
- a draft of the Data Sharing and Linkage Report with a focus on the how OSR could empower the public sector to prioritise data sharing and linkage for the public good, setting out the success and challenges; and
- work in progress as part of OSR’s research programme to develop a shared understanding of the public good of statistics.
- The Board noted the update.
11. Integrated Data Service (IDS) [SA(23)40]
- Alison Pritchard updated members with progress on the Integrated Data Programme (IDP), responsible for the delivery of the IDS.
- Alison Pritchard reported that the RAP had not been able to grant accreditation to the IDS at its June meeting. The panel had received a report which approved the security controls but the panel needed more evidence of data maturity in service operations for accreditation to be given.
- An invitation had been made to return to RAP in September. The aim going forward would be to maximise current analysis under existing legal gateways, which would help provide the further evidence requested by RAP. Alison assured the Board that she considered the design of the IDS remained valid.
- With regard to the transition from the Secure Research Service to the IDS, and following discussions with the Economic and Social Research Council, Administrative Data Research (UK) and some other research bodies, a further period of dual running beyond March 2024 had been agreed in order to resolve issues in relation to tooling and better meet user needs. There would now be no ‘hard stop’ to the SRS in March 2024.
- Board members discussed the update. The following points were considered in discussion:
- the decision of the programme to now pivot away from a strategic to a more tactical approach in the coming months working with existing models of governance;
- the long-term future of the programme and how success would be judged;
- the further evidence needed to gain accreditation including that related to data catalogues and data monitoring, and in respect of other outstanding queries;
- the controls that data owners from other government departments would need to be assured of in order to share data;
- what tools it would be realistically possible to expect users to adapt to;
- whether the programme would benefit from a ‘pause and reset’; and
- the programme’s hope that further buy-in for the IDS could be secured through the work being led by Central Digital Data Office around the identification of Essential Shared Data Assets; and
- that it was critical that the programme took the time needed to ensure all controls were ‘green’ before resubmitting an application for DEA accreditation.
- The Board would continue to remain engaged as the work progressed, and thanked Alison and her team for their efforts thus far.
12. ARIES Programme [SA(23)41]
- Jason Zawadzki and Mike Keoghan provided the Authority Board with a progress update for the ARIES programme for quarter one 2023/24.
- The Board heard that as part of programme delivery the new style Public Sector finance release in May 2023 included new balance sheet metrics. Prices Rail Fares had been incorporated in the production of headline consumer price statistics in March 2023. The work on the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TFLS) had resulted in improvements in response rates, data quality and resilience, and a reduction in the legacy risk. The ARIES Full Business Case had been submitted to HMT in April. The Board heard that changes to the scope of the programme to ensure ongoing affordability and viability would not impact on the project to reduce reliance on legacy systems.
- Board members discussed the update and commended the team on progress including the impact of the TLFS. It was noted that all audit actions from the recent Internal Audit Report on ARIES were complete.
13. Strategic Risk Profile [SA(23)42]
- Tom Taylor and Natalie Tarr provided the Authority Board with an update on the strategic risk profile following discussion at the ARAC on 18 May 2023. The strategic risk profile sets out the most significant risks to the delivery of the strategy, Statistics for the Public Good.
- The Board welcomed the assurance provided by the review of the overarching Independence and Trustworthiness risk, which was owned by the National Statistician and overseen by the Board. The Risk and Assurance team had made significant progress over the last year as recognised by the ARAC. Currently all strategic risks were within risk appetite, demonstrating the enhancements in controls and assurance, continued focus by the Risk and Assurance team and risk owners, led by Sir Ian and the senior leadership team.
- Board members discussed and agreed the recommendation to amend the appetite statement and range for Strategic Risk 2 ‘Delivery of Ambition’. With regard to Strategic Risk 10 ‘Public Health Monitoring and Reporting’ it was agreed that given the current position the risk should move outside of appetite, while noting that in the coming months the risk would be revisited.
- It was noted that ahead of the next Board discussion on the strategic risk profile in November, workshops would be scheduled with members.
14. Annual Report and Accounts [SA(23)43]
- Tom Taylor and Rhys Thomas introduced the final draft version of the Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23, which had been reviewed by the ARAC and had been subject to audit by the National Audit Office (NAO).
- Tom Taylor commended the finance team for all of their work with the end of year financial position within all control totals. The report set out the achievements across the year over the year 2022/23.
- The Board approved the Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23 ahead of laying before Parliament on 11 July. Sir Robert, on behalf of the Board noted the significant achievements achieved under the leadership of Sir Ian, and noted thanks to all.
15. Any other business
- Members briefly discussed ONS Excess Deaths Mortality statistics. A paper was scheduled for discussion at the July meeting.
- The next meeting of the UK Statistics Authority Board will be on 27 July 2023.
The papers that informed this board meeting are attached as a PDF document for transparency. If you would like an accessible version of the attached papers, please contact us at email@example.com