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Survey Participant Information - Steps the ABS is taking to minimise reporting load placed on businesses
 

Steps taken at the strategic level...

The need to reduce reporting load on business, particularly on small businesses, has been recognised within the ABS and across government. In 1996, the ABS set up a Provider Load Committee to accurately measure load placed on business and identify corporate goals and initiatives for reducing the load. At around the same time, the Statistical Clearing House was established to oversee surveys of all businesses conducted by or on behalf of the Australian Government with a view to reducing duplication, eliminating poor collections and monitoring the overall load imposed by each collection. Together these strategies have resulted in some active steps to ensure reporting load on business is understood and kept to reasonable levels.

Steps taken at an operational level...

The ABS reviews its work program on an ongoing basis and looks for ways to continually reduce the load placed on businesses completing ABS business surveys. Some of the ways load on businesses is minimised include:

  • Discontinuing surveys that are no longer relevant or are very similar to other collections;
  • Consolidating like collections into a single survey;
  • Reduced frequency of collections;
  • Reduced scope of collections;
  • Reduced data content;
  • Reduced sample and/or improved sample redesign;
  • Use of administrative data to replace or supplement direct data collection;
  • Improved questionnaire design.

Time spent by businesses to complete ABS forms is reducing

As a result of initiatives mentioned above, the total time spent by businesses to complete ABS surveys fell 40% since 1995-96. The reduction on load placed on small business was more marked, falling 51%. As at June 2003, total load on small business represented 41% of load placed on all businesses by ABS collections.

ADJUSTED PROVIDER LOAD
Graph - Adjusted Provider Load


DEFINITIONS

Small business

Businesses with less than 20 employees. From 2002-03, an estimate of the business size has been derived based on gross wages and salaries for specific industries.

Adjusted provider load

Time spent by respondents to complete survey questionnaires that has been adjusted to an annual basis to take into account major surveys conducted less frequently than yearly.


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