CBS, OCW and DUO launch Departmental Data Centre

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
On 24 January 2018, Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and DUO, the Dutch authority on study finance, signed a covenant to undertake the establishment of a Departmental Data Centre. This six-month pilot project will strengthen mutual collaboration among the three parties in the field of data processing and analysis. At the same time, the centre will address the growing need for information products in the policy cycle.

New approach

Lisette Eggenkamp heads the team Education statistics at CBS. Over the past few years, her team has carried out further (commissioned) research for the Ministry. ‘We are now also launching the pilot Departmental Data Centre at OCW and DUO. For all three parties, this is a new and supplementary approach. We mainly want to intensify collaboration and utilisation of each other’s expertise and data sources. This also involves access to the microdata sources available at DUO and CBS. These can be used in further analyses.’


In practice, the intensified collaboration means three CBS researchers with education in their work portfolio spend two days per week in the Hoftoren government building to work with researchers from OCW and DUO. Eggenkamp: ‘We are going ahead with a number of concrete questions from policy staff at OCW. This is an experiment; we’ll assess the pilot after six months.’ After the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, OCW will be the second Dutch ministry to launch a Departmental Data Centre. ‘Talks about launches are being held with other ministries as well, as data-driven policy work is becoming more commonplace within central government.’

Strengths improve

Pauline Thoolen is part of the management team at OCW’s Knowledge department, where she heads the cluster dealing with forecasts, scenarios and policy-related statistics. As such, she has been closely involved in establishing the new Departmental Data Centre. She, too, indicates that the CBS, OCW and DUO have been effective collaborative partners for years. ‘Each organisation maintains their own position, but as researchers, we want to collaborate on an equal basis. For example, using univocal definitions so that the analyses conducted by these organisations are comparable. Together, our strengths improve.’ One study which was already underway at the three organisations concerns equal opportunities. ‘We are continuing this study under our new collaboration in order to achieve better interpretations.’

More sources of information

Anton Bal is the information product manager at DUO. Using information technology and research, DUO enriches education data. The purpose is to interpret and assign significance to information in its own context. This information is used towards policy preparation and assessment, both by and for the education sector and by organisations such as CBS. ‘DUO has been one of the initiators of the Departmental Data Centre. Cooperation in the chain, I find that essential. We are indispensable to each other when it comes to data usage, data analysis and elucidating information. Moreover, we want to anticipate the questions coming from the relevant policy departments in response to the coalition agreement. This calls for a broader perspective than we have within our own organisation.’ DUO would like to extend this new form of collaboration by establishing more alliances with other organisations, e.g. the education inspectorate, various universities and the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB). ‘We are still involved in the phase in which we collect and exchange as much information with each other as possible, within the privacy frameworks as they exist under the current legislation. But we are evolving towards an information society in which data usage and interpreting of data lead to new policy insights.’

Relevant article