Select Committee on Treasury Thirteenth Special Report

Appendix 2: Letter from Sir Michael Scholar to Michael Fallon MP, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee


When I and officials from the Office for National Statistics gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee inquiry into Counting the Population in January, we were not able to give full details of the measures that were planned in order to ensure that US authorities were unable to access personal census information through the US Patriot Act. With a procurement process underway, it was not possible to disclose details of the bidders of' proposals to protect data confidentiality and security.

The procurement and approval process has now concluded and, on 28 August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced the award of the contract to provide data processing services to support the 2011 Census to Lockhead Martin UK Ltd.

I therefore wanted to write to you to provide further details of the measures that have been taken to protect data confidentiality and security under this contract. We are explaining the details of these measures to provide strong reassurance to the public in our communication of the contract award.

The measures in place include:

  • All Census data is owned by ONS and all of the legal undertakings of confidentiality of personal Census information will apply to both ONS and any contractors. Existing UK law already prevents disclosure of Census data. Under the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 it is a criminal offence to disclose personal Census data, punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both.
  • All Census employees and contractors working on the Census sign a declaration of confidentiality to guarantee their understanding of, and obligations under, the law.
  • All staff who have access to the full Census data set in the operational data centre will be ONS employees.
  • Contractual arrangements with Lockheed Martin UK Ltd ensure that only sub-contractors registered and based in the UK and either UK or EU owned will have access to any personal Census data.
  • The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin UK Ltd. Lockheed Martin UK will design the processing systems for ONS using its expertise and past experience. The day to day running of operational services will be provided by a consortium of specialist service providers. All of these specialist subcontractors are registered and owned in the UK or elsewhere in the EU.
  • This contractual structure means that no US companies, and no employees of any US companies, will have any access to any personal Census data.
  • No Lockheed Martin staff (from either the US parent or UK company) will have access to any personal Census data.
  • Personal Census data will be classified information, and will be processed in the UK and remain in the UK; physical and system access to all such data will be rigorously controlled and authorized by ONS employees.

We have put these contractual and operational arrangements in place to ensure that US authorities are unable to gain access to census data through the Patriot Act.

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.

Sir Michael Scholar, KCB

Chair of the UK Statistics Authority

29 August 2008

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