Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Extra information
Methodology Previous Releases
International comparison:
For more information on this release:
E-mail: Barry Sobey (+353) 21 453 5355 Kieran O'Shea (+353) 21 453 5568
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 2009-6720
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Response Burden Barometer


Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer)1147.0136.0144.498.090.7100.091.992.490.387.286.784.1
1 Base Year updated to year 2013 from year 2005
2 2010 figures reflect the decennial Census of Agriculture

Response burden on businesses decreases by 3% in 2019.

Figure 1: Response Burden Index,2013=100
go to full release

The Response Burden Barometer (RBB) for 2019 continued in the relatively stable pattern that has been evident in the last five years, dropping slightly from the previous record low recorded in 2018.

The RBB is a measure of the total administrative burden placed on Irish enterprises and agricultural holdings by Central Statistics Office (CSO) surveys when calculated on an actual compliance basis1.

Changes to the burden include natural fluctuation with enterprises entering and leaving the survey population over the course of the year, and variation in response expected. As some surveys such as the Farm Structure Survey (every 2 to 3 years) and the Census of Agriculture (every ten years), don't take place every year, care needs to be taken when comparing the RBB from one year to that of the previous year.  Improved data and development of methodologies also contribute to variation within the RBB. 

There was a 3% decrease in burden between 2018 and 2019. The cost to business of this burden was €3.86 million in 2019, down by €120,200 from 2018. See Tables 1 & 2.

For main headline figures, see Infographic

The latest estimate is that there are 485,700 active business enterprises (including the latest Farm Population figure) in Ireland. In the course of the 2019 surveys to these enterprises, the CSO issued 303,400 surveys forms, or an average of 0.62 survey forms per enterprise. There were 196,200 forms returned as partially or wholly completed, representing an average of 0.40 forms per enterprise. See Table 2

If burden is measured on the basis of partially or fully completed survey forms actually returned to the CSO (i.e., if burden is based on actual compliance1), then the total number of hours spent by business in 2019 was 218,600, or 27.0 minutes per business. The administrative cost2, measured on 2013 prices, of actual compliance was €6.4 million, or €13.17 per enterprise. The administrative burden (i.e. administrative costs less business-as-usual costs), was €3.86 million, or €7.94 per enterprise. See Table 2 & Methodology 

If all survey forms issued by the CSO were partially or wholly completed and returned (i.e., if there had been full compliance), then the total number of hours spent on this task by enterprises in Ireland in 2019 would have been 270,000, or an average of 33.4 minutes per enterprise. The administrative cost of full compliance would have been €8.4 million, or €17.29 per enterprise. The corresponding administrative burden would have been €5.1 million, or €10.43 per enterprise. See Table 2 & Methodology. 

The most burdensome survey in 2019 was the Trade Intrastat Imports survey, which is conducted jointly with Revenue, issued 47,100 forms, of which 43,200 were returned partially or wholly completed. The full compliance administrative costs of completing all Trade Intrastat Imports forms in 2019 were €2.6 million, while the actual compliance administrative costs were €2.4 million.

Of the purely CSO surveys, the most burdensome was the Balance of Payments survey, with a cost of €593,800 for the returns made in 2019. See Statbank Tables. 

1Actual compliance basis: calculated on a time and cost basis of fully or partially completed returns to the CSO. This is the preferred method of the European Statistical System for calculating the Response Burden Barometer level.

2The hourly administrative cost figure used in the calculations for non-Trade surveys was €44.00 (based on 2013 figures). For Trade surveys, the administrative cost figure was based on their 2013 Response Burden Survey. The administrative burden of CSO Surveys was 60.32% of the administrative costs figure. Please see Methodology for further details. 

Table 1 Total Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer) Index, 2013 = 100
All Surveys200820092010¹201120122013201420152016201720182019
Forms Issued122.5119.2141.093.386.8100.086.191.9103.888.383.786.2
Forms Returned124.0118.7146.894.087.0100.087.388.8101.686.081.480.5
Time, full compliance (forms issued) - hours150.5137.1140.699.191.1100.096.9101.696.499.198.499.6
Time, actual compliance (forms returned) - hours139.9130.6136.898.792.0100.099.4101.4102.3104.7106.2102.5
Administrative Burden, full compliance158.1142.5147.398.089.4100.
Administrative Burden, actual compliance (Response Burden Barometer)147.0136.0144.498.090.7100.091.992.490.387.286.784.1
1 2010 figures reflect the decennial Census of Agriculture
Table 2 Forms, Time taken to complete forms, Administrative Burden, All Surveys
 2008 2013201420152016201720182019
Total number of active business enterprises (incl. agricultural holdings)431,400 451,700450,700450,700461,300460,800488,600485,700
Number of forms Issued         
All Surveys431,100 351,900302,900323,400365,400310,600294,600303,400
Average number of survey forms per business enterprise per year 1.00 0.780.670.720.790.670.600.62
Number of forms Returned         
All Surveys302,000 243,600212,600216,400247,600209,500198,200196,200
Average number of survey forms per business enterprise per year 0.70 0.540.470.480.540.450.410.40
Time, full compliance (forms issued), hours         
All Surveys408,000 271,100262,800275,500261,400268,700266,700270,000
Average number of minutes per business enterprise per year 56.7
Time, actual compliance (forms returned), hours         
All Surveys298,400 213,300211,900216,300218,100223,200226,400218,600
Average number of minutes per business enterprise per year 41.5 28.328.228.828.429.127.827.0
Administrative Costs, full compliance, 2013 prices         
All Surveys (€)15,686,500 9,919,2008,938,5009,222,1008,726,9008,481,3008,226,4008,395,300
Average administrative cost (€) per business enterprise per year 36.36 21.9619.8320.4618.9218.4116.8417.29
Administrative Burden, full compliance, 2013 prices         
All Surveys (€)9,462,100 5,983,3005,391,7005,562,8005,264,1005,115,9004,962,2005,064,000
Average administrative burden (€) per business enterprise per year21.93 13.2511.9612.3411.4111.1010.1610.43
Administrative Costs, actual compliance, 2013 prices         
All Surveys (€)11,185,300 7,607,3006,992,7007,029,6006,873,2006,632,7006,593,6006,394,500 
Average administrative cost (€) per business enterprise per year25.93 16.8415.5215.6014.9014.4013.5013.17
Administrative Burden, actual compliance, 2013 prices         
All Surveys (Response Burden Barometer) (€)6,747,000 4,588,8004,218,0004,240,3004,145,9004,000,8003,977,3003,857,100
Average administrative burden (€) per business enterprise per year 15.64 10.169.369.418.998.688.147.94

Background Notes

Minimising survey response burden

Notwithstanding the ever-growing international demand for statistics (from organisations such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, etc.), minimising the administrative burden placed on CSO business respondents is, and has been for many years, a corporate priority of the CSO. (See the CSO’s Statement of Strategy 2019) The CSO has taken, and continues to take, a number of actions towards this end. Amongst these actions are: 

  • Increased use of administrative data (especially from the Revenue Commissioners), reducing the need to collect information from enterprises;
  • Reduction of sample sizes where possible;
  • Reduction of the level of detail collected on questionnaires across a number of surveys;
  • Introduction of short annual forms for small enterprises, with the more detailed forms being sent to the larger enterprises only;
  • Re-design of questionnaires to align as far as possible with Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet accounts entries;
  • Increased use of electronic rather than paper forms;
  • Working with software companies to incorporate functionality into payroll software programs which automatically extracts and completes almost all of the requirements of the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey and a large portion of the requirements of the National Employment Survey.

In the case of Ireland, it should be noted that most, but not all, government statistical inquiries are conducted by the CSO, and that almost all CSO surveys are driven by EU legislation with limited scope for national interpretation during implementation. The above actions have been possible within the structures of the governing EU legislation.

upArrowHide Background Notes

Scan the QR code below to view this release online or go to