The Administrative Data Research Network consists of:
- the Administrative Data Service, which coordinates the Network and ensures it has a robust and secure infrastructure, processes, protocols, training and governance to maintain the highest standards and best international practice that ensure the protection of data privacy at all times.
- four Administrative Data Research Centres, one in each country in the UK, which provide research expertise:
- national statistics authorities (each in partnership with their country’s Administrative Data Research Centre)
- government departments and agencies (the data providers)
- the Economic and Social Research Council (the funders)
- the UK Statistics Authority (leading the Network’s Board)
The Network was 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.
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.
This public consultation, named Dialogue on Data, took place in October and November of 2013. Read the full report and the appendix. The Network has taken the recommendations from this consultation and incorporated them in its foundation principles.
The ESRC set up a new Advisory Board which provides oversight of the ADRN during the remainder of the current investment period (until September 2018). It will also advise on the longer term future of the ESRC’s investment in administrative data research and consider whether changes are needed within the Network to increase the acquisition of data needed for research.
The new Advisory Board will be in place by the summer and will be chaired by ESRC Council member, Professor Melinda Mills of the University of Oxford.
Until June 2017, the Board was chaired by the UK Statistics Authority, which reports directly to Parliament.
The Network is managed by its directors group, which consists of:
- the directors of the four Administrative Data Research Centres and the Administrative Data Service
- the ESRC lead for data and resources (as observer)
- a liaison from the governing board (as observer)
- the chair of the operations group
This group reports to the Economic and Social Research Council, which is accountable to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
The group is responsible for all Network policy, strategic forward planning, resource allocation, and innovation.
The operations group manages the Network day to day, and is responsible for collective decision-making on how to implement the strategic direction decided by the directors group.
The operations group consists of two representatives from each Centre and two from the Administrative Data Service. The representatives are appointed by each unit’s director, and one of them must be that unit’s project manager.
The ESRC’s senior policy manager will also attend. Others, such as the chair of a task team, may be invited when relevant.
The operations group aims to:
- develop the Network’s annual operations plan
- recommend targets and measure progress
- collate and report performance measures to the directors group
- implement new developments, innovations and policies initiated by the directors group
- improve how we collect evidence of the Network’s impact