Data Science Campus Advisory Board – 7 November 2019

Item Lead Discussion points
1 Introductions Tom Smith, Frankie Kay

1.1 Tom Smith welcomed Members to the fifth meeting of the Advisory Board and Frankie Kay, Deputy National Statistician and Interim Director General for Data Capability. The Members introduced themselves and it was noted Hetan Shah would be withdrawing from the Advisory Board following his appointment to the British Academy.

Frankie highlighted the appointment of Sir Ian Diamond as National Statistician. Frankie raised the challenges of data accessibility from across government and noted the success of the ONS in developing access for data from the Department for Work and Pensions and that HMRC data would be available early in 2020. Frankie stated her priority to ensure support to the Campus’ research agenda and technology.

Tom noted the question of how the work of the Campus should be split between the ONS and the wider Analysis Function, and that big datasets and Chief Science Advisor network publications will be used to see where we can connect.

2 Information sharing and Campus updates Tom Smith, Peter Fullerton, Dave Johnson, Sebastian Mansley

2.1 Peter Fullerton provided a summary of progress on the actions from the Board’s third meeting. All actions were either complete or on the Agenda. The restrictions of the pre-election period were noted.

2.2 Tom Smith presented an update for the last four months. Tom highlighted key achievements for the Campus including the Faster indicators of UK economic activity being a regular publication and being handed over to the ONS Economic Statistics team, the development of weekly Faster indicators following requests from the Bank of England and HM Treasury, green space work in collaboration with Ordnance Survey, intelligence on lorry trade to inform trade negotiations, the launch of the Graduate Data Science Programme, the ongoing work of the Campus with the Government Digital Service to produce an audit of public sector data science capability, the Campus Hub in East Kilbride being up and running with continued recruitment, ongoing collaboration with Barclays and recognition from the Civil Service Awards as finalists in the Innovation and Science category. The Members discussed the current state and future of cross government working, and how best to use, maintain and expand collaborations while being mindful of ethical and security concerns.

2.3 Peter Fullerton presented an update on the Spending Round that took place in lieu of the planned Spending Review 2019. Most Departments’ budgets were rolled forwards and no bids had been possible. A comprehensive spending review is likely to take place in 2020. Peter summarised the financial position of the Campus and noted that the additional funding provided following the Bean Review has been consolidated into baseline ONS budgets.

2.4 Dave Johnson presented a summary of the Data Science Graduate Programme, describing the curriculum and the skills that the programme seeks to develop. Dave noted that the curriculum will change and grow in line with the needs of government, and that the role of the Campus is to build capacity rather than just supply training.

Action 1: Secretariat to distribute the Graduate Programme curriculum.

3 Seeking advice: increase and demonstrate Campus impact Tom Smith, Peter Fullerton, Dave Johnson

3.1 Peter Fullerton presented the Campus’ current approach to assessing progress and impact through project-by-project classifiers that feed in to a high-level visualisation as well as transactional metrics and immediate follow up feedback. Sebastian Mansley explained the Hoshin Planning Matrix as a framework the Campus investigating to better demonstrate impact. The Members discussed how to view time spent on tasks such as data wrangling or organising data sharing agreements when considering performance metrics and raised net promoter scores and search engine queries as potential impact measures. Frankie Kay said that projects informing published statistics was a measure under consideration. The Members queried if the Campus was viewed as insular and an overview of upcoming partnerships was given to demonstrate progress being made in this area. Further discussion was had on the applications of new technology to create data streams the Government currently lacks, the capability of the Campus and wider UK Statistics Authority in ensuring equitable reporting of statistics nationally and how to target the biggest issues facing society. It was agreed that the next meeting would include further investigation into these points.

Action 2: Peter and Sebastian to update on metrics at next meeting.

Action 3: Dave Johnson to provide update on peer reviewed impact at next meeting.

3.2 Dave Johnson presented a summary of the current focuses of the East Kilbride Hub, noting specifically the role of building comparable organisation to the Campus in other countries. Tom Smith provided an update on the UN Global Platform and its potential future under the UN rather than within the ONS. Tom raised the questions of what priorities the Campus should have balancing international and other work, and as there are other organisations such as an ONS International Development Team to what extent should the Campus be pushing new projects versus supporting the other organisations. The Members made suggestions of how to best develop the Campus international presence.

4 Rapid fire presentation Evie Brown, Dave Johnson 4.1 Evie Brown presented an overview of the structure and her personal experience on the Applied Data Science Degree Apprenticeship programme. The Members were impressed by the presentation and asked about the curriculum structure and content.
5 A.O.B / Close Tom Smith

Dave Johnson updated the members on the Campus’ partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and the joint Campus/Government Digital Service’s Data Science Capability Audit that will inform the Analysis Function’s frameworks.

Tom Smith thanked the Members for attending, and invited suggestions of individuals that would be good additions to the Advisory Board. The next meeting was expected to take place in March, with a poll to be completed to confirm a date.

Peter Fullerton, Anya Crisp-Patterson, Sebastian Mansley;
DSCAB Secretariat, November 2019