Data Science Campus Advisory Board – 30 November 2018

1. Note of the second meeting

Item Lead Discussion points
1 Introductions Heather Savory Heather welcomed Members to the second meeting of the Advisory Board. The members present introduced themselves.

Heather highlighted the increasing profile and reputation of the Campus. Demand – from both within and outside ONS – was outstripping supply and she noted the importance of the prioritisation of projects.

2 Information sharing and Campus updates Tom Smith & Peter Fullerton Peter Fullerton provided a summary of progress on the actions from the Board’s first meeting.

He also set out a proposed framework for an annual report, showed some sample pages, and invited input from the Board by correspondence.

Tom Smith spoke about the progress of the Campus since the previous meeting, highlighting how the Campus was delivering support across government. It was announced in the recent Budget that the Campus will lead on a cross-government audit of data science skills, demonstrating the recognition that the Campus is receiving.

The Campus is also involved in cross-government delivery, for example the Bank of England has asked the Campus to lead on the rapid economic indicators programme. The Campus has also submitted bids for funding to the EU Exit programme in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, the Department for International Trade, and the Department for Exiting the European Union, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency.


Secretariat to schedule a discussion of risks at the next meeting of the Board.

Briefing on how the Campus fits in with other parts of ONS and other Government bodies to be prepared and distributed to the Board.

Campus to prepare a plan on evidencing impact and circulate before the next meeting.

Draft annual report to be shared with the Board for input prior to publication.

3 Seeking advice: growing the Campus and demonstrating impact Tom Smith, Louisa Nolan, Peter Fullerton Tom Smith described the Campus plan to extend the engagement of the Campus across sectors. It was suggested by the Board that, for each sector, it would be important to determine what the offer from the Campus is, in order to encourage companies and universities to allow secondments into the public sector for their staff. The Board suggested investigating successful models, such as the one used by the Centre for Science and Policy (CSAP) which creates a long-term network of “alumni”.

Louisa Nolan presented slides describing the research work of the Campus and showing how the Campus is differentiated from other government data science groups. The Board queried how projects were prioritised and stressed the importance of looking to the future when considering projects. The Board also noted the importance of balancing the push (capability outbound) and pull (assignments and commissions inbound) of work, and the need to avoid becoming a hub for short-term consultancy services, and instead focus on widely applicable products as outcomes.

The Board had a wide-ranging discussion on the impact of the Campus. There needed to be a clear understanding and communication of the role of the Campus. The Board recognised the challenges inherent in measuring R&D benefits, highlighted the importance of following up on projects after completion to collect evidence of impact and supported an approach that included demonstrating impact through case studies.

4 A.O.B / Close Tom Smith The Board asked about the recruitment and retention rates at the Campus. Tom Smith noted that the Campus finds it easier to recruit to technical positions than the wider ONS. The current retention rate is 97% (the first data scientist had just left), although this reflected the relative newness of the Campus: this rate is likely to decrease in the future as the Campus matures.


Secretariat to issue papers and questions to be addressed by the Board at least a week ahead of each meeting.

A short summary description of the goals and functions of the Campus to be circulated to the Board, to help the Board act as “ambassadors” for the Campus in their meetings with stakeholders.

Secretariat to share case studies that illustrate the impact of Campus research projects.

Peter Fullerton, Anya Crisp-Patterson, Rachel Prior;
DSCAB Secretariat, December 2018