The Central Statistics Office, CSO, is responsible for the collection, processing and publication of official statistics on economic, social and general conditions in the State. While the main focus is to meet the statistical requirements of Government, there is a very wide community of users of statistics, both national and international. Statistics are used by Departments and public bodies, by business, universities, research institutes and the general public. Indeed, members of the public are increasingly aware of the key statistics and indicators concerning the economic and social issues which affect their daily lives.
International organisations, notably the Commission, the IMF and the OECD, are also important users of statistics. The CSO must comply with an extensive body of European legislation on statistics; the majority of surveys are required by EU regulations and these demands are increasing.
International organisations also have a significant role in defining standards for the compilation of comparable information and in setting quality standards and principles for the governance of official statistics. In this regard, the CSO subscribes to the standards set out in the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the European Statistics Code of Practice. Net expenditure by the Central Statistics Office, CSO, in 2010 amounted to €50,762,000. The 2011 net allocation is €80,067,000. This is an increase of 58%, the reason for the increase being the census of population which is undertaken every five years. As Deputies will be aware census day was on 10 April. Almost all of the census collection costs have been incurred in the first half of the year. The Central Fund Act 1965 limits Departments to spending no more than four fifths of the previous year's allocation in anticipation of the Department's Vote being passed by the Dáil. The need to discharge the outstanding census field payments now, mainly the balance of the fees due to enumerators, makes it necessary to put the Vote before the House in advance of those for other Departments and Offices.
More than 5,300 temporary field staff were employed by the CSO to conduct the census field operation. During the course of the operation they delivered and collected more than 1.6 million census forms. Their work has been successfully completed and I thank and commend all the census field staff on their effort and dedication in conducting census 2011. Final payments to the census field staff are being issued this week and the motion will enable the CSO to fulfil its commitments to these staff and to continue with the rest of its statistical work programme throughout the remainder of 2011. The CSO aims to publish the preliminary results of the census at the end of June. These results will provide population summaries by gender, for each county and electoral district, as well as providing benchmark data on net migration in the five years since the last census in 2006.
During the next six months the CSO will scan and code the census forms, which amount to more than 20 million pages of information. The first detailed census results will be published in March 2012, less than one year after census day. The programme of census reports will include nine thematic releases containing tables, maps, interpretation and analysis. Detailed on-line tables and small-area statistics will be produced. The exact timetable and details of the census publication programme will be announced on the CSO website in September this year. While the census is the CSO's largest project, the office has an extensive ongoing work programme and publishes in excess of 300 statistical releases and publications every year. Results from the latest household budget survey will be published later this year.
Initial results from the June 2010 census of agriculture were published in March and a detailed county report on farming will be published in 2012. The CSO compiles our most important economic indicators, which receive close scrutiny in the present climate. For example, it will publish the quarter one figures on the labour market and on national income later this month. Monthly indicators such as the consumer price index and the retail sales index will receive close attention from economic commentators and from the public at large. The CSO's newest reports also reflect current policy priorities. These include the residential property price index series, which was published in May; the last release on foreign nationals' PPSN allocations, employment and social welfare activity, also issued in May; and the CSO's job churn analysis, which provides an on-line visual and tabular presentation of the changes in employment in each sector of the economy. These three reports were all based on existing administrative data sources. They illustrate the potential to provide statistical insight using administrative data and to produce new statistics without increasing the burden on data providers.
The CSO is taking a comprehensive approach to reducing the burden on business of providing statistics. This involves the re-design of questionnaires, the reduction of sample sizes and greater integration of data from existing sources. By taking this approach, the CSO reduced the statistical burden on businesses by 7.3% in 2009. A similar reduction is being achieved this year. One of the key initiatives to reduce the burden in 2011 is a reduction in the number of small enterprises which are being surveyed in the annual services inquiry. Instead of sending questionnaires to these firms, the necessary information will be estimated by the CSO from Revenue data.
Similarly, the annual June and December surveys of agriculture now require less form-filling than before because information on cattle and cereals is obtained directly by the CSO from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The overall approach is in line with the National Statistics Board's Strategy for Statistics 2009-2014, which places a strong emphasis on the overall Irish statistical system and on realising the statistical potential of administrative records. The CSO is working closely with other Departments and agencies to help support the effective use of statistics to inform policy. In this regard statistics have an important role to play in promoting evidence-informed decision making and in monitoring policy outcomes. I expect that a climate of greater accountability and preference management in the public service will increase the demand for statistical information.
Finally, the number of staff in the CSO's Vote for 2011 is 850. This compares with 767 in 2010. Under the employment control framework, the permanent staffing of the CSO will reduce to 725 in 2012, after the census processing is finalised, and to 700 by 2014. Like all Departments and offices, the CSO must meet the challenges of public service reform. The office has fully delivered on all its commitments for savings under the McCarthy report and the Croke Park agreement and is implementing a programme of continual improvement to meet the challenges ahead. As I stated at the outset, I thank all the staff of the CSO, including the 5,300 field staff who collected the census forms, for a job well done so far. I look forward to seeing the results of their work when the preliminary results are published by the CSO at the end of this month. I commend the Estimate to the House.