About the ABS Data Laboratory (ABSDL)

The ABS Data Laboratory (ABSDL) is the data analysis solution for high-end data users who want to extract full value from ABS microdata. ABSDL provides an interactive environment, enabling the analysis of basic, expanded or specialist (customised) Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs). ABSDL provides a more responsive and interactive environment in which to analyse CURFs than that offered by the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL).

Comparison of ABSDL and the RADL

LocationOn site in all ABS Offices.At your own desktop, secure remote access via the ABS website.
ContentBasic and expanded CURFs, or a specialist CURF customised to client's analysis requirements.Basic and expanded CURFs.
Analytical packages availableSAS9.3, SASEG, SPSS20 and Stata13.
Other analytical packages may be able to be provided if requested.
SAS9.1, SPSS11.5 and Stata10.
Functionality Interactive. No automated protections of data within the ABSDL. In the ABSDL you can open and view the entire file, and undertake cross tabulations and other forms of analysis without automated restrictions. All outputs are vetted by ABS staff before release to clients to ensure confidentiality of respondents is protected. No internet access during sessions.Batch mode system. A range of automated protections of the data ensure confidentiality of respondents. Some commands restricted or forbidden and you cannot view the entire file.
AvailabilitySessions must be booked in advance if using basic or expanded CURFs.
Specialist CURFs may take several months to produce and is dependent on availability of ABS resources.
Generally available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
CostAccess sessions are fully cost recovered. See Microdata prices.
Specialist CURFs or other client specific requirements are fully cost recovered. See below for further details.
See Microdata prices.


The ABSDL service is provided on a fully cost recovered basis, with a one-off set up cost, and a per session cost. The costs includes preparation of the desktop PC, maintenance of the client's access to a CURF, as well as vetting of all output produced during the ABSDL session. Sessions are 3.5 hours or part thereof.

Loading of different analytical packages may incur additional costs.

Development of a Specialist CURF for use in the ABSDL is also cost recovered. As these are developed on a case-by-case basis the cost for Specialist CURFs may be considerable, depending on the client's data requirements.

Clients in universities participating in the ABS/Universities Australia Agreement are entitled to a specified ABSDL service - for which there is no charge to the individual user. Information about this is provided on the ABS/Universities Australia Agreement web page.


Access is provided to visiting CURF users in a secure location within ABS premises. The ABSDL allows interactive (real time) access to Expanded RADL files. There are no limitations on what unit record or summary information a user can view within an ABSDL, and users are allowed to produce graphical outputs. Users are supervised at all times and must not bring mobile phones, cameras, USB keys, laptops, palm pilots or similar transmission or storage devices into the secure location. All outputs produced by users in ABSDL are manually cleared for release after the session.

More information

For further information email microdata.access@abs.gov.au. The ABS privacy policy outlines how the ABS handles any personal information that you provide to us.