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1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/11/2002   
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INFORMATION DEVELOPMENT PLANS AND ANALYTICAL FOCUS

Information Development Plans (IDPs) are emerging as a major source of ideas for fruitful analytical work.

For a given field of statistics (say, education or the information economy), the ABS and other interested agencies may negotiate an IDP that:

  • spells out what statistics would best support policy design, evaluation, other decision-making and research
  • assesses the statistical potential of administrative and business databanks as well as direct collections run by the ABS
  • identifies statistical gaps, overlaps and other deficiencies and proposes ways of addressing them
  • sets out roles and responsibilities for enhancing the national information base in the given field.

Recently, a team of participants in the ABS Strategic Management Program (SMP) developed a guidance document for ABS staff and others who have responsibility for creating IDPs. The team's report suggests a seven-step process:

1. Define your field of statistics by referring to the view of the world adopted by policy agencies or researchers, to statistical frameworks, to standard socioeconomic theory and so on.

2. Understand the debate, especially what questions are in the minds of key stakeholders.

3. Define the desired information set by identifying major domains of concern, dimensions, variables and linkages.

4. Assess the data pool by identifying data custodians, their databanks, data content and quality.

5. Define what information would add value, especially what gaps and overlaps should be addressed, and what solutions (such as direct collection, deriving statistics from by-product databanks, or analysis) are best suited to addressing the deficiencies.

6. Negotiate to create the information by discussing who among the interested organisations will undertake each aspect of the statistical development activity.

7. Evaluate the match between statistical needs and the available statistics, and the process for generating the IDP and inspiring statistical development activity.

The project team also drew attention to some cross-cutting issues, such as how staff who are working on IDPs can share their experiences, discoveries and good practices.

The team's guidance document will expand and evolve during the next few years as we gain experience with creating IDPs. Also, Analysis Branch is developing an offshoot document that describes what analytical support would best assist the IDP creation process, and how ideas for analytical projects can be distilled from the intelligence gathered during that process.

To contact the SMP project team about its report or to discuss the analysis program, please phone Ken Tallis on (02) 6252 7290.

Email: ken.tallis@abs.gov.au

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