The Administrative Data Research Network consisted of:
- the Administrative Data Service, which coordinated the Network and ensured 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 provided 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 took the recommendations from this consultation and incorporated them in its foundation principles.
The Network is managed by its directors group, which consisted 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 reported to the Economic and Social Research Council, which is accountable to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
The group was responsible for all Network policy, strategic forward planning, resource allocation, and innovation.
The operations group managed the Network day to day, and was responsible for collective decision-making on how to implement the strategic direction decided by the directors group.
The operations group consisted of two representatives from each Centre and two from the Administrative Data Service. The representatives were appointed by each unit’s director, and one of them must be that unit’s project manager.
The ESRC’s senior policy manager also attended. Others, such as the chair of a task team, were invited when relevant.
The operations group aimed 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