Ministry of Social Development data withdrawn for revision
1 November 2013
MSD data withdrawn for revision
Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Brendan Boyle said today the Ministry has removed statistics from the Child, Youth and Family website after uncovering a small anomaly with selected data sets.
Mr Boyle said, “We have removed the Child, Youth and Family statistics section while we fix the problem.
“We are confident that the error doesn’t contradict any statistical trends that have been cited publically and not all of the data sets are affected. Nevertheless, we felt it was prudent to remove it to avoid confusion.”
The public is still able to request data through a dedicated email address on the Child, Youth and Family website, and the Ministry will deal with each query on a case-by-case basis.
The reports will be posted online again once the information has been reviewed and finalised. This work will be complete by the end of the month.
Mr Boyle said, “A minor systems upgrade created an error, which has affected some data dating back to 2011.”
The effect of the change took some time to detect as it was cumulative, only recently emerging from the acceptable margin of error.
“A sharp-eyed analyst spotted the discrepancy working with two sets of data that are not usually directly compared. As soon as she suspected something was wrong, she alerted various ministry staff to the problem.
“The initial review of data shows a margin of error of mainly around two or three per cent, up to eight per cent.
“We’ll work to ensure anyone who has used this data over this period for official publications and other reporting is provided with the revised information.
“Ministry staff are right now working with key stakeholders and users of this information to minimise any consequences,” said Brendan Boyle.
What does Consistent External Information
CEI data is used for reporting against a number of key CYF indicators including:
• Overall findings of abuse
• Family/Whānau Agreements signed
• Family Group Conferences for Care and Protection
• Family Group Conferences for Youth Justice
• Distinct children with findings of physical abuse
• Notifications of child abuse and neglect
What is a data snapshot and why they’re used?
Five years ago, we introduced the CEI (Consistent External Information) system, specifically for external reporting. While our day-to-day operational data is very rich, the numbers change every time new information is entered – however late.
This makes it very difficult for any one person to state with confidence – for example - how many Family Group Conferences were held in March 2012. CEI data takes regular ‘snapshots’ of information that’s been inputted into CYRAS, locking off the recording at an agreed date and is therefore more stable.
That snapshot is taken one month and two days after the close of the month. That is, the figures for March are locked off at the close of business on the second day of May. This is the time required for the data collected to reliably be most complete.
The consistency of this reporting was much preferable to the older system.
What went wrong?
During a system upgrade, the dates these ‘snapshots’ were taken were affected, effectively reducing the amount of data collated in each period.
The effect is cumulative, so as a result it has taken some time to even emerge from the acceptable margin of error.
The CEI reports are the only data sets in the ministry that uses this snapshot methodology; as a result we are confident that this is the only data affected.