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1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2009   
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'Making Quality Visible'- an update

In the September 2007 edition of Methodological News, we reported on the Making Quality Visible (MQV) initiative that was underway in the ABS. This article provides an update of the progress that has been made since then on various aspects of the MQV initiative.

ABS quality framework

In December 2007, the ABS quality framework was updated to include an additional dimension called "Institutional Environment". It was felt that due to the increasing number of statistics which are sourced from administrative data, particular note should be made as to the source of this information when reporting on quality to allow informed decision making to occur. The addition of this dimension to the quality framework brings the total number of dimensions to seven, which are: Institutional Environment, Relevance, Timeliness, Accuracy, Coherence, Interpretability and Accessibility. Work is underway to compile a document for external release which describes the ABS quality framework in detail.

Quality declarations

Quality declarations (QDs) are statements reporting on the quality of an ABS statistical release using the seven dimensions of the ABS quality framework. Quality declarations are written specifically for web-based dissemination: they are short and brief statements about the quality of the statistics being viewed. They are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace other supporting quality information that is available in the form of Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes and Concepts Sources and Methods, to name just a few. Quality declarations were designed to be more visible than other explanatory material on the website and as a result are intended for use as a brief introduction of the quality of the statistics whilst providing links or advice to more detailed information.

In 2007, the ABS committed to the creation and release of QDs accompanying statistical products on the web starting in January 2008. Since then, the ABS has widened its scope for QDs to be included from January 2009 onwards for compendium publications and for Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs).

Quality statements for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG), in a Heads of Treasury circular (2008/02) "Implementing the new national performance reporting framework", mentioned the use of the ABS data quality framework for creating performance indicators:


    "On the 3 July 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a new national performance reporting framework to underpin the new framework for federal financial relations....Agencies responsible for compiling the performance indicators will prepare a quality statement for each, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Quality Framework."

The ABS will be playing an active role in the adoption and use of the ABS quality framework for assessing performance indicators using quality statements. Along with supplying the quality framework, the ABS will recommend core content that is required in the construction of performance indicators.

Quality reviews

Quality reviews are a new concept within the ABS that were first piloted in 2008. The concept for quality reviews is based on a similar program of quality reviews in Statistics Sweden.

Quality reviews are an intensive review of a collection or a process, and are conducted over a short period of time (usually five working days). The quality review is conducted by a team of three independent reviewers from methodological, system and operational backgrounds, and the findings of the review are provided to the area for which the review is being conducted, so that they can improve their processes where possible. Quality reviews were conducted in 2008 for the Retail Trade and International Trade Statistics areas.

For more information on this work, please contact Melissa Gare on (02) 6252 7147 or melissa.gare@abs.gov.au, or Narrisa Gilbert on (02) 6252 5283 or narrisa.gilbert@abs.gov.au.


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