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2018 Census external data quality panel confirmed

3 September 2018

The 2018 Census external data quality panel met for the first time on 29 August 2018. The plan to establish the panel was first announced in July.

The panel will provide independent advice to the Government Statistician about whether the methodologies used to produce information from the 2018 Census of Population and Dwellings are based upon sound research and a strong evidence base. They will also provide advice about:

• approaches to data processing and methodology that affect the quality of the data

• data issues that may affect the usefulness of the data for Māori and iwi as Treaty partners

• any quality issues people will need to consider when using 2018 Census and related population data, and any further work required to assist customer use.


The panel of independent experts brings together a broad range of local and international demography, census model, and statistical methodology skills and experience. The appointed panel members are:


• Richard Bedford, Emeritus Professor, recently retired Professor of Population Geography, Auckland University of Technology and University of Waikato (Chair and spokesperson)

• Alison Reid, local government senior researcher, Auckland Council

• Barry Milne, expert data user, COMPASS Research Centre, University of Auckland

• Donna Cormack, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; and Te Mana Raraunga (Māori Data Sovereignty Network)

• Ian Cope, international census expert, ex-Office of National Statistics (ONS), United Kingdom

• Len Cook, former New Zealand Government Statistician and former National Statistician of the United Kingdom

• Tahu Kukutai, Professor of Demography, National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato; and Te Mana Raraunga

• Thomas Lumley, Professor of Biostatistics, University of Auckland.


“I’m delighted to announce that such a high calibre group of people have agreed to be part of this process. In addition, we will continue to engage with our key customers to share our progress, assess any impacts for them, and work with them on the best ways to meet their information needs,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said.

In welcoming participants to the first meeting of the panel, Professor Bedford acknowledged that the impact on data quality of innovations in the design and delivery of the 2018 Census needed to be assessed before the release of final results.

“The group that has been invited to address quality-related issues brings wide-ranging experience in the use of census data for research, planning, and policy. The panel welcomes the opportunity to provide expert independent advice to Stats NZ on a range of issues concerning the 2018 Census data.”

Seeking advice from an external data quality panel is one of several approaches Stats NZ is adopting to better understand New Zealanders’ views and to obtain their input on our methods and data quality approaches. Because the panel members will have access to early census data and statistical workings, the information we share with the panel will be safeguarded under the protections of the Statistics Act 1975 and all members have signed a Stats NZ Declaration of Secrecy.

The panel will meet regularly until about April 2019 and will produce an independent report. The report will support Stats NZ’s aim to be transparent with the public and our data users about the quality of the census and population statistics.

Terms of reference for the panel will be published in due course.

Independent review of 2018 Census

In addition to the work of the expert data quality panel, as announced in July, there will be a comprehensive review of the 2018 Census, undertaken by independent reviewers reporting to the Government Statistician. We expect that the data quality panel will be an important information source for this review.

Full terms of reference for this review are currently being developed by Stats NZ with the State Services Commission before consultation with critical stakeholders. Once finalised, the terms of reference will be published alongside an announcement of the appointed reviewers.

“We want to know what worked well and what did not work well, and why,” Ms MacPherson said. “We need to be clear about what we should have done better and what were the drivers and behaviours of the people who simply did not fill out their census forms, despite our extensive efforts.”

“We expect the review to provide advice and make recommendations so future censuses and our other household surveys can be as effective as possible.”

“We know how important census information is for decision makers across New Zealand, and so it is vital that we maintain public trust and confidence in the census. I’m determined to do that, and the data quality panel and the independent review are key steps on the way,” Ms MacPherson said.

Also see 2018 Census update.

Ends


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