Administrative data sources - ADMIN

What is ADMIN?

The Administrative Data Sources (ADMIN) project is one of the eight projects in the ESS Vision 2020 portfolio. Its objective is to make more use of available data sources, in particular administrative sources held by other public authorities. Most ESS Members are moving towards an increased use of administrative data sources for statistical purposes to complement , or even replace , previous surveys.

By coordinating these efforts at the ESS level, the ADMIN project strives to promote efficiency: it aims to reduce the cost of data collection as well as burden on respondents, and more generally to collect data only once and then re-use it for multiple purposes afterwards. Investments then pay off in the continuous use of the data source, especially for permanent data needs.

The ADMIN project addresses two key challenges in using administrative sources for official statistics, coinciding with key areas of the ESS Vision 2020:

Harness new data sources: Access to administrative data is a precondition for using them. This depends on the legal environment (statistical and data protection laws, etc.), but also on the institutional environment, the national cooperation between public authorities, and the public opinion on data sharing. Currently, statistical offices are in very different situations in this respect: from easy and free access to heavy restrictions making access very cumbersome or expensive.

Strive for quality: More administrative data sources in official statistics require particular focus on output quality. Among the ESS quality indicators, the following key for ADMIN: relevance, i.e. addressing tensions between statistical and administrative concepts (for instance "resident population"); accuracy of statistical products; timeliness which may improve or worsen with the administrative timetable; and comparability at national or ESS level.

Who we are

As the following country maps illustrate, almost every ESS Member is actively participating in one or more ADMIN activities, either at governance or at operational level. In terms of governance, the ADMIN Steering Group plays a central role:

Footnote: The ADMIN project came to an end in 2019. The UK participated in the Steering Group and Task Force meetings until the end of the project.

7 work packages

The ADMIN project consists of 7 work packages (WPs) tackling these challenges from various directions.

WP1 – Access to administrative data sources

(under construction)

(under construction)

WP2 – Statistical methods for combining multiple sources

(under construction)

(under construction)

WP3 – Quality measures for multisource statistics


When several sources are used in statistical production, it is not easy to quantify or describe output quality in a simple way, as there are many ways of integrating the various sources. Both Member States and Eurostat need to be able to assess the quality of new sources before integrating them in the statistical production system, as well as the quality of the final statistical output.

Quality assessment, both at input and output level, is necessary to certify that European Union official statistics are of sufficient quality and fit for their intended use, in particular in terms of relevance, accuracy, timeliness and comparability.

This work package is handled by a dedicated ESSnet project on quality of multisource statistics:

Key deliverables include:

  • Quality guidelines for outputs based on multiple sources (administrative sources combined with other administrative sources or surveys);
  • Quality guidelines for frames for social statistics;
  • Quality measures and indicators for outputs based on multiple sources and for frames for social statistics.

WP4 – Using administrative data held or designed by the European Commission


Of course, the European Commission itself holds or designs administrative datasets for various policy uses: this work package is to investigate if and how some of them held by the Commission or by other institutions (but based on EU law) can be used for official statistics directly by Eurostat or by other statistical authorities in the ESS. Two pilot studies are already ongoing:

  • Collaboration between Eurostat and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to use their Aggregated Catch Data Reporting (ACDR) database for catch statistics.
  • Grant-supported projects by various ESS Members on using their Integrated Administration and Control System databases (IACS; nationally administered under EU law) for agricultural statistics.

The following ESS Members have participated in one or more of the grant waves 2013, 2014 and 2015:

Possible topics for a third pilot study are currently being investigated.

WP5 – Frames for social statistics


Population frames are an important use case of administrative data where the focus is on direct identification variables (PIN, name, address) plus a very small number of key variables like sex and age. Whereas business statistics are based on a well-established business register, statistics on individual and households suffer from inconsistent frames across statistical domains and a lack of methodology to assess their quality. Correct population frames are a prerequisite for the implementation and evaluation of many European policies.

Based on an extensive survey among ESS Members of current practices in using administrative sources for population frames, as well as on the quality guidelines for frames prepared by the ESSnet team (see WP3), a dedicated Task Force of ESS Members has recently started to work out long-term EU actions to increase the availability and quality of frames for social statistics:

WP6 – Pilots and applications


From the outset it was part of the ADMIN project design that new methodological developments should be based on the actual problems and challenges encountered during the work with administrative sources in the ESS. On the other hand, ADMIN results should also be exposed to the real world and prove themselves in statistical production environments as soon as possible. To this end, work package 6 offers funding support in the form of grants to

  • provide hands-on case studies for other work packages;
  • pilot the application of results from other work packages in various statistical domains and for various administrative registers (e.g. tax register, population register, social security registers) of several ESS Members; and
  • facilitate the integration of new administrative sources in statistical production, or their use for different purposes.

Many ESS Members have participated in the grant waves for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017:

The call for proposals for the last 2018 wave is already out and work is scheduled to start in June.

WP7 – Methodological support to Member States


It is inherent to the ADMIN project that often particular problems arise only within the very diverse specific national environments of ESS Members, so that generic recommendations and guidelines may not always be sufficient. For these situations work package 7 offers various support services, for instance

  • a helpdesk where staff from ESS partner offices can ask specific technical or methodological questions related to the use of administrative data sources, or ADMIN project outputs;
  • the possibility to apply for on-site consultancy where distinguished experts in the field will visit an ESS partner office to work together on current ADMIN-related challenges;
  • recurring ESTP courses on relevant ADMIN topics;
  • an exchange platform for statistical services between ESS Members.

Stay tuned here or on the CROS webpage for more information and latest updates.

Latest developments

Read the full story in the ADMIN business case or browse the latest progress in the different work packages on the  CROS website .