Reducing Data Burdens – ICES Delegates Briefing (May by cpd16778


									Reducing Data Burdens – ICES Delegates Briefing (May 2009)

Background and Update

At the previous ICES conference on 26 February 2009, I provided an update
on the latest progress on the Reducing Data Burdens project.
Communications to schools and LAs were sent out via the regular emails in
w/c 16 February and linked to the progress report on the Department’s
website at These provide
details of how DCSF intends to meet the 30% target for reducing data
burdens on providers, as committed to in its Simplification Plan (published in
2007). Final details for meeting the 30% target were agreed by Ministers on
11 May 2009 and will be published at the above address in late May 2009.

Following feedback during and following the ICES, the Department’s response
to a number of issues are detailed below:

Feedback and response from ICES colleagues

This exercise won’t have any impact on the front line.
The benefits will take a while to feed through, but we have consulted widely
on what will make an impact on front line providers and have had our
estimates of compliance cost savings scrutinised by external practitioners.
We shall evaluate the project over the next few years to test how much of an
impact the changes have had.

Lots of collections are ceasing anyway, so this project is simply spin.
Collections that ceased in the 2008-09 period have been counted in the
reductions as they too contribute to the burden but these only make up 3% of
the baseline and so new savings far outnumber them.

New collections coming into the programme will wipe out any savings
It is true that DCSF is developing a number of new collections. In particular,
the Children in Need census and School Workforce Census will have a large
impact on schools and LAs, but the initial set-up and training costs will
diminish over time. We have reviewed these collections against the Better
Regulation Executive criteria to ensure they comply and are working with the
survey development teams to incorporate changes. DCSF is increasingly
designing data collections that closely align with school and LA systems, in
order to minimise the burden of submission.

The Department will miss the 30% target it set itself.
There is a chance that this may happen, and if it does it will probably be
because a proposed alternative source of data in a key policy area isn’t
deemed to be robust enough. School and Local Authorities themselves
wouldn’t want the Department to drop data collections to meet a target and
then not have robust data to monitor the system. We have reviewed every

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mandatory collection against the BRE criteria and are confident that all
remaining collections comply.

The project has missed its 2010 deadline for roll-out. When will schools
and LAs notice any difference?
Due to the lead-times on making amendments to certain collections, the full
effect of the changes won’t feed through until January 2012, with the majority
feeding through by April 2011. We need to give software suppliers and data
providers sufficient notice to amend their systems, but have announced what
the broad package of changes will include so that colleagues can start making

The Department will need to repeat this exercise in a few years to keep
burdens manageable.
We certainly don’t aim to do that. The project has been working closely with
our board that scrutinises new collections to ensure there are processes in
place to keep burdens low. This includes making sure all proposed
collections are assessed against the Better Regulation Executive criteria and
will probably also involve having an annual ‘compliance cost ceiling’ for the
Department’s data collection programme.

So much is subject to evaluation – what if this fails?
We will be monitoring the position on the areas ‘subject to evaluation’ very
closely, as around 8% of the 25% reductions announced so far is in this
category. Around half of the evaluations are well advanced and so Ministers
will soon be in a position to make a final decision. If it seems that any of the
projects will not be successful, we will alert senior officials and re-visit certain
existing collections to try to secure additional savings.

Particular collections don’t have value locally – why are you keeping
We have consulted widely on the proposals to drop or amend particular
collections, which has included local partners as well as DCSF and other
policy officials as well as Ofsted. There are instances where local colleagues
didn’t use particular items that policy colleagues needed to retain in order to
monitor the system and fulfil Ministers commitment. Examples include data
on the timescales for adoption of looked after children and information on
local Early Years partnerships. There were also some areas where DCSF
considered dropping particular items but local colleagues asked us to
continue collecting them so they could be used for benchmarking (e.g. on
Foundation Stage Profile scores).

The Department is stopping collecting key information on vulnerable
We have indicated that we will drop the ‘outcomes for looked after children’
data collection, subject to the successful evaluation of alternative data
sources. For attainment data, this will be from matching current CLA records
to our National Pupil Database, and for other outcomes (such as health) we
are investigating whether information can be gathered from other government
Departments. No data collection on this vulnerable group of children will be

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ceased unless analysts and Ministers are satisfied with the alternatives.

The review didn’t cover collections by NDPBs so the Department can
just collect data via them.
NDPBs and agencies also have a responsibility to minimise burdens on
providers and most are signatories of the sector’s ‘protocol agreement’ which
provides guidance on this. Some organisations, such as TDA, pass their
proposals for new or amended data collections to the DCSF’s Star Chamber
Scrutiny Board for approval.

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