Latest – 20 June 2017:

Report: Annual assessment of ONS's progress towards an Administrative Data Census post-2021

This report describes what we mean by an Administrative Data Census, highlighting the main challenges and how to address them. Using a set of evaluation criteria, this report delivers our second assessment of our ability to move to an Administrative Data Census in the next decade.

This year’s assessment reflects an important step forward in ONS being able to access the range of data needed to produce outputs from an Administrative Data Census. The Digital Economy Act 2017 was passed into law in April 2017. The Act gives ONS a right of access to information held by government departments, other public bodies, charities and large and medium-sized businesses, for statistics and research purposes.


ONS’s Administrative Data Census Project was set up to assess whether the government’s stated ambition that “censuses after 2021 be conducted using other sources of data” can be realised.

What this report covers

This is our second assessment of its ability to move to an Administrative Data Census in the next decade.

It is our ambition to produce the type of information that is collected by a 10-yearly census (on housing, households and people) from an Administrative Data Census. Doing this will require a combination of:

  • record-level administrative data held by government

  • a population coverage survey

  • a population characteristics survey

  • some commercial and other non-survey data sources

You can find further information on what an Administrative Data Census is in last year’s assessment.

The assessment in this report is made against the following five high-level criteria:

  1. rapid access to new and existing data sources

  2. the ability to link data efficiently and accurately

  3. methods to produce statistical outputs that meet priority information needs of users

  4. acceptability to stakeholders

  5. value for money

These criteria reflect what needs to be in place for ONS to move to an Administrative Data Census. We make an assessment on where we are now and where we expect to be by 2023 in Figure 1.

This assessment is supported by evidence and a description of what we will do to improve these red, amber and green ratings. The report also has three annexes:

  • Annex A explains the high-level evaluation criteria for moving to an administrative data census

  • Annex B presents an update on the acquisition of administrative data

  • Annex C presents a quality framework for administrative data-based outputs about characteristics