1015.0 - Information Paper: Transforming Statistics for the Future, Feb 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2016  First Issue
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TRANSFORMING STATISTICS FOR THE FUTURE

For over 100 years, the ABS has contributed to Australia's economic prosperity, to Australia's democracy and to the wellbeing of Australians by providing high quality statistical information to governments, researchers and the community. However, the ABS operates in a rapidly evolving information environment. Our statistics must keep pace with Australia’s changing economic and social environment to meet the growing expectations of decision makers, and we must deliver the best possible statistical program in more efficient and innovative ways.

The cost to the ABS of traditional survey collection methods has been increasing over time and we are implementing ways of acquiring information which are less intrusive and less costly on households and businesses. Tapping into the potential of existing data sources such as administrative and transactional data held by governments and businesses, as well as drawing on sophisticated statistical modelling and estimation capabilities, provide opportunities to meet increasing demands to deliver more and enhanced statistics, in a challenging fiscal environment.

Through transformation, the ABS will deliver trusted, high quality statistics that are richer; draw on multiple sources; more coherent; more accessible; and use new methods to inform on matters of importance to Australia.

Enhancing our statistical capability involves major re-design of our statistical collections, methodologies, products and services in order to deliver a more sustainable statistical program that extracts greater value from all available data, to produce modern statistical solutions.

To ensure the best alignment of our statistical program with Australia’s information requirements, we will engage with stakeholders to better understand their information needs and how information best supports their business. This will enable us to effectively identify potential data sources and the methods that could underpin fit-for-purpose statistical solutions. We will collaborate with experts on key methodological and technical elements, and with data custodians to maximise the value of existing data sources.

We are committed to improving the value of data for policy development and evaluation - by bringing data sets together across the commonwealth, to address complex matters of importance to Australia, and improving access to our data whilst respecting the confidentiality and privacy expectations of our citizens and data providers. For example, we recently provided direct access to microdata for two of the Productivity Commission’s officers working on the Migrant Intake into Australia Inquiry. This access was provided through an in-posting arrangement within an ABS office, and gave them the ability to perform complex analysis of ABS microdata when needed, as the inquiry progressed. This approach also provided the Productivity Commission with the capacity to apply statistical modelling techniques to unit record data, rather than simply evaluating aggregate data.

We also recently enhanced access to the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset – which brings together a 5% sample from the 2006 Census with records from the 2011 Census - by making it available in a secure environment to approved researchers through the ABS Data Laboratory. This dataset is enabling rich research and spurring additional policy discussion, for example, in relation to the propensity of Australians to identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin over time and their changing socioeconomic circumstances.

The 2015 ABS Engagement Strategy reflects the importance of the principles of understanding, collaborating and nurturing within our engagement. This framework will provide the basis for engagement and consultation around the ABS' transformation journey.

During transformation, we will carefully manage statistical risk and impacts on statistical outputs. Effective management of risk during our transformation is imperative to ensure continued delivery of high quality, official statistics. The ABS Risk Management Framework aligns with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and has been a significant focus for the ABS in 2015-16.