The ABS establishes its work program in response to current and emerging statistical priorities of users, and within the context of our mission, organisational objectives and overall strategic directions. This strategic directions statement presents the broad objectives the ABS has chosen to pursue which will shape our priorities and the future work program.
The statistical demands of the government and the community are broad ranging and increasing both in volume and complexity. As Australia’s national statistical agency, the ABS has a responsibility to respond to these demands in the context of its mission and resource constraints.
KEY DRIVERS OF ABS STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
The ABS undertakes an ongoing program of consultations seeking input from key stakeholders and clients on their statistical needs, which includes asking them to identify and prioritise areas of demand that are currently unmet. The information from these consultations is used to inform internal priority setting both within specific areas of the organisation and across the whole organisation.
There is a need for the ABS work program to address emerging issues of importance for key clients including:
In the second half of 2004 the ABS commissioned an external review of its strategic directions. Key findings from the review were:
- evolving client demands for data in a broader range of areas, at more disaggregated levels, delivered more responsively and cost effectively
- increasing complexity of the Australian economy and society, meaning that production of existing statistics is often commensurately more complex
- increasing plurality of data providers driving a need to ensure the overall Australian Statistical System is coordinated and the ABS role in this system is clearly defined
- increasing demands for access to microdata, longitudinal data and (in the future) linked data within a climate of concern about an individual’s privacy
- a whole-of-government initiative that is emphasising greater information sharing (‘create-once, use-many’) and coordinated policy and program delivery across departments
- pressures to improve productivity, create a staff profile more appropriate to future skill needs of the ABS, and attract additional funding to enable expansion of the work program.
Therefore the ABS needs to strengthen its external focus and improve its capacity to respond to new demands. These challenges drive many of the ABS strategic directions.
- the ABS is highly respected for its credibility, impartiality, independence and the quality of its work and outputs. Stakeholders do not want that to change
- clients want the ABS to succeed — they want it to change and remain the main national statistical provider, while simultaneously providing stronger leadership to the Australian Statistical System, including advancing the National Statistical Service
- the external environment in which ABS key clients require and use information has changed. The environment is placing greater emphasis on access to more information, while protecting privacy. At the same time, key client capacity to produce their own statistics has improved. While much good work is underway, the ABS could be doing more to respond to those changes
- clients want the ABS to engage with them, but to do so more effectively than at present. They want the ABS to be more responsive.
KEY STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
Some current key strategic directions are to:
The ABS has received additional funding through the 2005–06 Federal Budget of $45 million over the next four years, with an additional amount of $31.2 million for census related initiatives.
- develop and lead a National Statistical Service that delivers the statistics required by key users, no matter what their source
- respond better to client demands by:
- improving engagement with clients so that we are in a position to add value to their work and decision-making
- improving responsiveness in various ways such as making better use of existing data stores
- as appropriate, seeking to expand the ABS resource base to allow us to address gaps in client needs.
- increase internal capacity (skills, technology and processes) to provide the ABS with greater flexibility to respond to external changes
- improve the process of determining priorities at a strategic level to increase transparency and engage more effectively with clients
- improve the alignment of the ABS human resource profile with current and future needs
- address the continued and increasing need to make productivity improvements
- increase the use of current and emerging technologies to improve statistical processes, data dissemination and organisational capacity.
Some key priorities that will be funded include:
- improved quality and timeliness of the established house price index
- maintaining the quality of the consumer price index
- maintaining the quality of international finance and balance of payments statistics
- improved and expanded measures of productivity
- improved statistics on household income and wealth
- implementation of updates to the United Nations System of National Accounts and the International Monetary Fund Balance of Payments Manual
- implementation of ANZSIC 2006
- implementation of new Australian accounting standards in ABS business surveys
- development of the Business Longitudinal Database
- conducting a longitudinal survey of the food industry
- conducting Natural Resource Management Surveys
- improved quality of census and inter-censal population estimates
- improved quality and use of demographic and social data on Indigenous Australians
- partial funding for free statistical material on the ABS web site
- furthering ABS’ statistical leadership of the Australian statistical system
- expansion of the range of data collected in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing to include questions on unpaid work, fertility and household use of the Internet
- development of an eCensus facility
- ABS’ role in enabling name and address information to be captured for those persons who ‘opt-in’ for the 2006 and subsequent censuses, and for the information to be stored by the National Archives of Australia.