The Administrative Data Research Network was founded in 2013 after the Administrative Data Taskforce report recommended to set up an independent organisation that would help social and economic researchers gain access to administrative data in a safe and lawful way.
The Administrative Data Taskforce was a working group set up by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust. They selected specialists in the fields of administrative data research, social research and medical research to come together and discuss different ways in which the information the government collects can benefit research.
Their conclusion was that a Network should be set up to create a single point of access for researchers who want to use government data for their social or economic research. This point of access should screen the researchers, make sure they are properly trained to handle potentially sensitive information, provide safe rooms for the researchers to access the data in, and take on the task of negotiating for data access as well as find safe ways to link different datasets together without compromising the privacy of any one person or organisation.
As a result, the ESRC decided to fund the Administrative Data Research Network.
The Taskforce report also recommended that the public should be consulted, and that their views should be taken in consideration when setting up the Network. The ESRC and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) commissioned IPSOS Mori to conduct a nation-wide public consultation on the subject of administrative data and its use as a basis for gathering information for the census as well as social research.
The Network has taken the recommendations from this consultation and incorporated them in its foundation principles.