Difficulties filling up to 75 posts in the Central Statistics Office (CSO) are impacting on plans for a new national sexual violence survey, which is not due to commence until 2021.
CSO director general Pádraig Dalton also told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) it could be years before issues around the publication of Garda crime statistics would be addressed.
Mr Dalton said the agency currently has 30 vacancies — many open for more than a year and some for up to 15 months.
The agency has 860 staff, some of whom must also be transferred to other State agencies on secondment when required.
However, in total, the CSO is trying to fill 75 posts between now and the end of the year.
“The vacancies vary in duration,” said Mr Dalton. “None of them would be much more than 12 months.
But some of them are 12 months and a lot of that is actually in the technology side, having difficulty recruiting on the technology side.
He said the difficulties in recruitment are impacting the CSO’s work, as there is a growing demand for data.
“It will limit our ability,” said Mr Dalton. “It is not limiting our ability too much at the minute because a lot of these posts are posts to help us meet new demands, like the Growing up in Ireland survey, [and] the sexual violence survey.”
Generally, the inability to fill positions is “slowing down” some future projects, he added.
It has been 17 years since the last SAVI report was completed, which detailed the prevalence of sexual violence in a survey of more than 3,000 adults.
PAC member Catherine Connolly said the long timescale for the new SAVI report by the CSO is worrying.
“I saw a timespan and it concerned me,” she said. “It is way out in the future.”
A pilot for the survey will start in the summer of 2020, Mr Dalton said, but the full “live survey” will not begin until the following summer.
Work on a questionnaire is under way currently, he said.
Rape crisis support services recently warned that a rise in reported domestic violence crimes reflects the pressing need to update the SAVI report.
Meanwhile, Mr Dalton admitted that there are still problems with garda crime statistics.
Publishing of these statistics was put on hold recently amid concerns about the accuracy of the Pulse system data.
Mr Dalton confirmed that there is still a “reservation” around Garda crime figures.
Asked when the doubts around the statistics would be lifted, the CSO director general replied: “It’s not going to be lifted next year or in all likelihood the year after.
"We’re talking about a number of years work required to address the issue. There is a pathway.
"We have an action plan in place with the guards.”