1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2000-01  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/09/2001   
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Contents >> Section 4 - ABS Outputs >> Chapter 6 - Economic Statistics Output - Review of Components

The remainder of this chapter reviews the activities and achievements of each component of the Economic Statistics program during 2000-01.

Chapter 5 presents an aggregated record of achievements of the Economic Statistics program against identified performance indicators of quality, effectiveness and efficiency during 2000-01.

National Accounts

The national accounts component produces statistics which form the core of the Australian system of national accounts. These statistics summarise, in a systematic and comprehensive way, the economic transactions that take place within the Australian economy and between Australia and the rest of the world. The usefulness of the accounts derives largely from the way in which data from a number of sources are brought together and presented in a conceptually consistent way, both for a given period and over time. Australia’s national accounts essentially accord with the recommendations contained in the 1993 issue of the System of National Accounts (SNA93), which is the international standard for national accounts statistics.

Senior staff of the component attend meetings of the Joint Economic Forecasting Group (comprising major Commonwealth Government economic policy agencies) to provide advice on the statistics used as input to the forecasting process.

Achievements during the year included:

  • publication of Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy, 1997 (Cat. no. 5240.0). This was the second such publication (the first was in respect of 1992), compiled on a comparable basis, enabling comparison between the two time periods;
  • publication of Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account, 1997-98 (Cat. no. 5249.0). This was the first satellite account prepared by the ABS;
  • release of a revised edition of Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5216.0);
  • continued contributions to the work of the Expert Group on Capital Stock Statistics, the Expert Group on Productivity Statistics and the London Group on Environmental Accounting. This included major contributions to the manuals, Measuring Capital and the System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA) and a lesser, but still significant, contribution to the OECD Productivity Manual;
  • publication of feature articles on the impact of the Sydney Olympic Games, and the impact of The New Tax System on the Australian National Accounts, in the July and August 2000 editions of Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0);
  • publication of feature articles in the March quarter 2001 issue of the quarterly publication Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (Cat. no. 5206.0) on: the introduction into the national accounts of new chain volume estimates for the services sector, the treatment of third generation radio wave spectrum licences in the national accounts, and the development of a real/volume balance sheet for Australia;
  • presentation of papers on national accounts issues at a number of international conferences on technical topics including the use of national and sectorial balance sheets, the treatment of payment to employees in the form of shares and share options and the development of an information technology satellite account; and
  • provision of technical assistance to the statistical agencies of Thailand and Vietnam in relation to the compilation of national accounts statistics.

International Accounts

The international accounts component produces statistics and related information on the balance of payments, international trade in services and the international investment position. It also participates with other government agencies in the work of the Joint Economic Forecasting Group, through its Balance of Payments Sub-committee. Balance of payments and international investment position statistics are published quarterly and annually, while the international trade in goods and services statistics are published monthly.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of a new brochure, Finance Australia in Brief (Cat. no. 5611.0.00.001); and a revised reference publication, A Guide to Australian Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Statistics (Cat. no. 5362.0.55.001);
  • expansion of published information to include more international comparisons of financial data in Finance, Australia (Cat. no. 5611.0) and publication of special articles on equity capital raisings on the Australian Stock Exchange, business and communications services in the finance industry, and on information technology and telecommunications in Australia;
  • publication of special articles in the quarterly Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (Cat. no. 5302.0) on the foreign ownership of equity, and an article on the effects of the Sydney Olympic Games on the balance of payments estimates;
  • development of a supplement to the Survey of International Investment to collect data on the extent of foreign currency hedging by Australian enterprises. This collection, the results of which will be published during 2001-02, is partially funded by the Reserve Bank of Australia;
  • analysis of private new capital expenditure estimates by ownership characteristics (foreign-owned or Australian-owned). The results were released in an Information Paper (data for Western Australia only, Cat. no. 5674.5) and a special article (for Australia and all States/Territories) in Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0);
  • incorporation of a new reporting classification, arising from updated international standards, for derivatives in balance of payments and international investment statistics, and improvements to the method of classifying residual maturity of foreign debt;
  • improving the dissemination of statistics to meet updated requirements of the International Monetary Fund's Special Data Dissemination Standard to which Australia and 49 other countries have subscribed; and
  • providing technical assistance to the statistical agencies of Thailand and Vietnam on balance of payments and international investment statistics.

International Trade

The international trade component produces statistics on the value, composition, destination and source of Australia’s merchandise exports and imports. These statistics are available on a range of output media, including publications, magnetic cartridge, email, floppy disk and paper reports, and can be tailored to the needs of individual clients. A theme page for International Trade has been created on the ABS website which provides users with an extensive set of reference material.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001 (Cat. no. 5489.0). This new publication describes the concepts used for Australia’s international merchandise trade statistics and the data sources and methods used to compile them. It explains the classifications used, describes how the data are edited and confidentialised, and analyses different aspects of the quality of trade data;
  • publication of special articles in International Merchandise Trade, Australia (Cat. no. 5422.0), including the outcomes of a review of the international trade program (in June quarter 2000), a bilateral reconciliation of merchandise trade flows between Australia and New Zealand (in September quarter 2000), an analysis of the major commodities traded by Australia in the past decade (in December quarter 2000), and an examination of export and import currencies used (in March quarter 2001);
  • commencement of a review of the statistical codes for exports and imports to reflect changes in the international Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System, or Harmonized System, to be implemented on 1 January 2002; and
  • continued participation with the Australian Customs Service, in its Cargo Management Re-engineering project, which aims to speed cargo clearances and reduce costs to businesses. The ABS is particularly involved in the development of the Accredited Client Program, which will allow selected importers and exporters to report to Customs monthly, rather than for each transaction.

Financial Accounts

The financial accounts component produces, as part of the Australian system of national accounts, statistics on the financial profile of each sector of the economy, and on the markets, for various categories of financial instruments. Information on inter-sectoral financial transactions is also provided.

The component also produces statistics on the lending activity and balance sheets of financial institutions such as banks, building societies, finance companies, credit unions, unit trusts and superannuation funds.

Achievements during the year included:
  • continued consultation with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Reserve Bank of Australia, and data providers on updated data requirements from regulated financial institutions, and the new APRA information systems to support revised collections;
  • working with APRA and the Australian Taxation Office to improve data quality of estimates of insurance technical reserves and pension funds;
  • release of statistics on venture capital investments in a special article in Managed Funds, Australia (Cat. no. 5655.0);
  • further technical assistance to staff from agencies in Thailand on improvements in their financial accounts; and
  • a reduction in provider load through the collection of housing loans data from a small number of securitisers, rather than collection from a large number of mortgage managers and mortgage originators.

Public Sector Accounts

The public sector accounts component provides Government Finance Statistics for the Australian Commonwealth Government, State and Territory Governments, their public non-financial and financial corporations, local governments, and universities. In addition to a range of annual publications, quarterly statistics are compiled for inclusion in the national accounts, and detailed financial statistics about individual local government authorities are provided on request. The component provides advice on the statistics used as input to the forecasting work of the Public Sector Sub-committee of the Joint Economic Forecasting Group.

Achievements during the year included:
  • release of five annual government finance statistics related publications on an accruals basis;
  • continued strengthening of relationships with all Treasuries and the Department of Finance and Administration, through regular meetings in various forums to discuss broad government finance statistics issues;
  • continued contribution to the work of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) government finance statistics section, particularly in respect of the IMF Draft Government Finance Statistics Manual which is aimed at improving the measurement and international comparability of accruals-based government finances; and
  • drafting of the Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods manual, which is in the final editorial stages.

Prices

The prices component is responsible for compiling the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and a range of producer and international trade price indexes.

The CPI measures the change each quarter in the cost of purchasing a fixed basket of consumer goods and services. The producer and international trade price indexes include price indexes of inputs and outputs of manufacturing industry, materials used in the building industry, outputs of selected service industries, and exports and imports.

Achievements during the year included:
  • the introduction of the 14th Series CPI, with the first results being released in the September quarter 2000 publication. A major motivation for the introduction of the 14th Series was to ensure that the CPI continues to be a reliable measure of price inflation after the introduction of The New Tax System in July 2000. Two major aspects associated with the 14th series are:
  • a new utility-based commodity classification, to better address possible consumer substitution between commodities in response to relative price changes; and
  • updated weights, based on results from the 1998-99 Household Expenditure Survey.

A Guide to the Consumer Price Index, 14th Series (Cat. no. 6440.0) was released in December 2000;
  • two feature articles in Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0). The first titled ‘Measuring the Impact of The New Tax System on the September Quarter 2000 Consumer Price Index’ was released in the December 2000 issue. The second special article was included in the June 2001 issue. It presented living cost indexes for four household subgroups - employee, age pensioner, other government transfer recipient, and self-funded retiree. The ABS intends to update these price indexes each year;
  • the ABS successfully hosting, in Canberra, the sixth meeting of the ‘Ottawa Group on Price Indexes’. Twenty-two countries, including a number from this region, were represented as well as four international organisations. The issues discussed included quality adjustment, the use of scanner data, how to handle new goods and disappearing goods, pricing financial services and pricing telecommunication services;
  • a new Producers’ Price Index (PPI) publication, entitled Stage of Production Producer Price Indexes, Australia (Cat. no. 6426.0), was released in July 2000 in respect of the June quarter 2000. It is a key element in implementing a model articulated by the ABS in 1997 for making the PPIs more relevant and useful. The indexes are compiled by stage of production (preliminary, intermediate and final) which enables the sequential impacts of inflation through the economy to be analysed; and
  • work on the rationalisation of the range of producer price indexes publications to provide a more integrated presentation.

Business Statistics

The business statistics program, by way of the investment and profits surveys, produces indicators of current economic activity through the publication of quarterly estimates of company profits, inventories and sales, and current and future economic activity, in respect of new capital expenditure.

Achievements during the year included:
  • significant system, methodological, procedural and organisational development, resulting in the commencement from March quarter 2001, of a single survey (the Quarterly Economic Activity Survey), replacing the existing quarterly surveys of inventories and sales, company profits and, from 2002, employment and earnings;
  • transition to the The New Tax System which had, amongst other things, implications for comparing current price estimates of new capital expenditure over time and complicated early estimates of expected expenditure for the 2000-01 financial year;
  • inclusion of a number of recently privatised marketing authorities in the data included in Inventories and Sales, Selected Industries, Australia (Cat. no. 5629.0) from June quarter 2000;
  • publication of experimental estimates on income from sales of goods and services for service industries in Inventories and Sales, Selected Industries, Australia (Cat. no. 5629.0) from June quarter 2000; and
  • a reduction in provider load from March quarter 2001 through the cessation of the collection of inventories from small businesses with less than 20 employees. Instead, estimates will be derived using quarterly sales information for small businesses and an estimated sales to inventories ratio.

Economy Wide Statistics

The economy wide statistics component is responsible for a range of annual statistics on the financial operations and performance of businesses in all of the Australian economy. The component also conducts a quarterly survey of expectations of short and medium term business performance, which covers all business sizes and all industries and sectors of the economy except agriculture and general government.

Achievements during the year included:
  • developing and pilot testing the inaugural Business Generosity Survey which will be run in conjunction with the 2000-01 Economic Activity Survey. The survey will present results at the most detailed level ever published in the Economy Wide collections;
  • inclusion of additional business profitability and time series data in Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia (Cat. no. 8140.0);
  • release of Australian Industry, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 8155.0) which presents experimental estimates at the 4 digit ANZSIC class level for selected service industries;
  • conduct of the tenth annual Economic Activity Survey, in respect of 1999-2000. Preliminary estimates were released in Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 8142.0), and Summary of Industry Performance, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 8142.0.55.001); and
  • electronic release of time series spreadsheets for Australian Business Expectations (Cat. no. 5250.0).

Small Business Statistics

The small business statistics component produces data about the size, structure and performance of small and medium sized businesses, to assist policy makers, researchers and the community to understand the behaviour of the sector.

Achievements during the year included:
  • publication of summary data updating estimates on the number and employment of small businesses in Australia in Small Business in Australia, 1999-2000 Update (Cat. no. 1321.0.40.001 and Cat. no. 1321.0.55.001);
  • release of a third publication from a household survey of small business operators: Characteristics of Small Businesses (Cat. no. 8122.0);
  • release of a joint publication with Austrade based on the Business Longitudinal Survey: A Portrait of Australian Exporters (Cat. no. 8154.0); and
  • completion of a number of research topics for clients on small and medium sized business performance using data from the Business Longitudinal Survey.

Science and Technology

The science and technology component provides statistics on innovation, research and experimental development, and information technology. The latter include statistics on the demand for information technologies by businesses, government, households and farms, and on the supply and distribution of information technology and telecommunications goods and services.

Achievements during the year included:
  • publication of Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 8104.0);
  • implementation of the revised (1998 edition) Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC) in surveys of research and experimental development;
  • publication of the first in a new series of annual statistics measuring business use of information technology including use of the Internet and e-commerce: Business Use of Information Technology 1999-2000, Australia (Cat. no. 8129.0);
  • publication of information on the use of information technology on farms, including regional statistics on the use of computers and the Internet: Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. no. 8150.0);
  • publication of expanded details of household use of information technology: quarterly details released in Use of the Internet by Householders, Australia (Cat. no. 8147.0); and more detailed annual statistics in Household Use of Information Technology, 1999, Australia (Cat. no. 8146.0);
  • publication of results from a new quarterly survey of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) providing regional statistics on the take-up of the Internet by householders and businesses as well as details of the types of services provided by ISPs: Internet Activity, Australia (Cat. no. 8153.0), first issue being September Quarter 2000;
  • the preparation of a draft framework for Knowledge Based Economy indicators for discussion with stakeholders; an Information Paper is scheduled for release in the second half of 2001;
  • contributions to the development of statistical standards for science and technology indicators by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, particularly in relation to standards for research and development statistics and biotechnology statistics, defining electronic commerce, and measuring household and business use of information technology; and
  • hosting a meeting of statisticians from Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region Government of China), New Zealand and Australia, with expertise in information technology statistics. Proposals were developed for promoting consistency in application of standards with a view to improving comparability of data from respective countries.

Agriculture

The agriculture component provides statistics on the structure, performance and production of the agriculture industry. Data collected and disseminated include detailed annual information on commodity production statistics, monthly information on livestock slaughterings, and quarterly information on poultry slaughterings and wool receivals by brokers and dealers. A large range of statistics on the structure, financial operations, performance and other characteristics of agriculture businesses is also obtained. Every five years commodity production statistics are collected from a census rather than a sample.

A range of derived statistics, including estimates of the value of agricultural commodities produced and the apparent consumption of foodstuffs, is also produced by the agriculture component.

Achievements during the year included:
  • development of the five-yearly Agricultural Census questionnaire;
  • further development of a theme page on agricultural statistics on the ABS website. The page provides users with ready access to details on the products and services available, a noticeboard containing issues important to providers and clients, contact information, and a range of other statistical advice and information;
  • in consultation with key stakeholders, finalisation of the future collection strategy for the agricultural statistics program;
  • some development work on the use of geocoding of agricultural data;
  • publication of Agriculture, Australia (Cat. no. 7113.0), a compendium publication on the structure of the Australian farming sector; and
  • publication of Directory of Agricultural and Rural Statistics (Cat. no. 1142.0).

Mining

The mining component conducts annual surveys of the mining, electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries to provide statistics on the structure, performance and production of these industries. The component also conducts quarterly collections of actual and expected mineral and petroleum exploration as well as supplementary collections of details of drilling methods in mineral exploration.

Achievements during the year included:
  • development of a simpler survey strategy which will reduce complexity for the ABS and, for many businesses, will reduce reporting load;
  • development of a strategy to reduce the reporting load on businesses by substituting administrative by-product data for survey data;
  • publication of the first edition of the Directory of Electricity, Gas and Water Supply Statistics (Cat. no. 1140.0);
  • further development of a theme page on mining statistics on the ABS website; and
  • completion of a review of the objectives, operations and outputs of the mining collection.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing component provides statistics on the structure, performance and production of the manufacturing industry. Data collected and disseminated include commodity production statistics, and extensive statistics on the structure, financial operations, performance, and other characteristics of the manufacturing industry. The latter set of statistics is obtained from an annual manufacturing industry survey.

Achievements during the year included:
  • further development of a strategy to reduce the reporting load on businesses by substituting administrative by-product data for survey data. Data from non-ABS sources will be used to minimise business reporting load in the 2001-02 Manufacturing Census;
  • development of a simpler survey strategy for non-census years which will reduce the number of businesses included in the survey and, for most businesses, will reduce reporting load;
  • inclusion of the annual manufacturing industry survey in a benchmarking exercise in which its cost structures were compared with those from similar collections in other overseas statistical agencies; and
  • completion of a review of the objectives, operations and outputs of the annual manufacturing collection.

Construction

The construction component produces statistics on the structure, performance and other characteristics of the construction industry, and timely indicators of activity for the three components of construction: residential building, non-residential building and engineering construction. Sources of data include monthly building approvals reported by approving authorities, and quarterly surveys of building activity and engineering construction. The component also conducts a construction industry survey on an irregular basis to provide measures of the structure of the construction industry as a whole.

Achievements during the year included:
  • the expansion of the publication, Construction Work Done, Australia (Cat. no. 8755.0) to include preliminary estimates of both building and engineering construction activity;
  • management of the operational and statistical impacts of The New Tax System on the range of building and construction statistics;
  • implementation of a refined functional classification of buildings; and
  • enhancements to data quality and production through the successful introduction of a redeveloped processing system.

Transport

The transport component provides monthly statistics on new motor vehicle registrations, annual statistics of motor vehicle use, together with the associated motor vehicle censuses which provide data on the characteristics of the Australian vehicle population and a periodic collection of Freight Movements for road, rail, sea and air modes. Other activities include maintenance of the transport page on the ABS website, compilation of occasional compendium publications, and data on the Australian motor vehicle fleet on CD-ROM.

Achievements during the year included:
  • improved timeliness in the release of the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use publication, with estimates for the 12 months ended 31 October 2000 being available within 8 months of the end of the reference period;
  • release of new electronic outputs: Motor Vehicles on GSP (Cat. no. 9312.0.001), a CD-ROM product that combines results of the motor vehicle census with other related transport and demographic statistics using the new Geographic Statistics Platform on the Integrated Regional Data Base; and an improved range of statistics from the motor vehicle census and new motor vehicle registrations; and
  • introduction of a new collection methodology for road freight in the Freight Movements Survey 2000.

Service Industries

The service industries component produces statistics on the size, structure, operations and output of a range of Australian service industries.

Achievements during the year included:
  • completion of the 1998-99 round of publications: Computer Services, Australia (Cat. no. 8669.0), Legal Services Industry, Australia (Cat. no. 8667.0), Cafes and Restaurants Industry, Australia (Cat. no. 8655.0), and Employment Services, Australia (Cat. no. 8558.0);
  • publication of the first in-depth surveys since 1991-92 on the Wholesale and Retail industries: Wholesale Industry, Australia (Cat. no. 8634.0), Retail Industry, Australia (Cat. no. 8622.0), and Retail Industry, Commodity Sales, Australia (Cat. no. 8624.0);
  • publication of a range of cultural industries surveys in respect of the reference year 1999-2000: Botanic Gardens, Australia (Cat. no. 8563.0), Motion Picture Exhibition, Australia (Cat. no. 8654.0), Video Hire Industry, Australia (Cat. no. 8562.0), Public Libraries, Australia (Cat. no. 8561.0), and Museums, Australia (Cat. no. 8560.0);
  • publication of 1999-2000 publications Casinos, Australia (Cat. no. 8683.0), and Hire Industries, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 8565.0); and
  • methodological research and user-consultation in relation to proposed surveys of the sport, recreation, pubs, clubs, accommodation, gambling and business event venues industries to be conducted in respect of 2000-01.

Retail Survey

The component also covers the retail survey which produces monthly retail turnover statistics. As well as being important in its own right as an indicator of economic activity, retail turnover forms a substantial component of private final consumption expenditure measures in the Australian national accounts.

Achievements during the year included:
  • managing the impact on the series of the transition to The New Tax System (particularly one-off changes in prices, unusual shopping behaviour and the complicating effect of the Olympics);
  • successfully collecting retail turnover inclusive of GST from July 2000 reference month onwards; and
  • successfully collecting information on direct retail activity within Olympic and Para-Olympic venues.

Tourism

The tourism component produces quarterly statistics on capacity and demand for tourist accommodation in Australia. Other activities include the development and promotion of statistical frameworks and classifications, production of a quarterly analytical publication Tourism Indicators, Australia (Cat. no. 8634.0), and irregular production of a directory of tourism statistics.

Achievements during the year included:
  • expansion of the scope of the Survey of Tourist Accommodation for each quarter of 2000 to produce statistics on capacity and occupancy characteristics of significant caravan parks, visitor hostels and holiday flats and units in addition to the standard quarterly data for hotels, motels and serviced apartments;
  • continued strengthening of relationships with stakeholders and providers through active participation at industry conferences and seminars, convening quarterly tourism industry meetings, and participation at major tourism forums including regular meetings between the ABS and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, to discuss broad tourism statistics issues;
  • assisting with the preparation and seminar program associated with the release of Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (Cat. no. 5249.0); and
  • release of feature articles in Tourism Indicators (Cat. no. 8634.0) covering topics such as tourist accommodation in Australia over the Olympic period; the Tourism Satellite Account; and occupancy characteristics of holiday flats, caravan parks and hostels.

Environment

The environment component collects and publishes environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. Within these fields, the component plays a coordinating role in the collection of data, undertakes research, and implements international accounting frameworks for new collections and current data holdings.

Achievements during the year included:
  • publication of the sixth edition of Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (Cat. no. 4602.0);
  • publication of Environmental Expenditure, Local Government (Experimental Estimates), 1997-98 (Cat. no. 4611.0);
  • the release of Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Accounts for Australia, 1992-93 to 1997-98 (Cat. no. 4604.0);
  • further progress and exploratory work associated with Forest Accounts, Waste Accounts, Land Accounts and enhanced Water Accounts;
  • redevelopment of the Environment Management Survey which will be conducted in 2001-02 in respect of the Manufacturing and Mining sectors. The survey will collect information on expenditure by businesses on environment management and protection, including costs associated with the management of solid waste, liquid waste and air emissions. The survey will also collect information on a range of environmental practices including factors influencing, and savings from, reductions in the use of energy, water and materials, and waste minimisation; and
  • participation in the review of the United Nations environment accounting framework, System of Integrated Economic and Environment Accounts.

Statistical Consultancy

The statistical consultancy component helps the ABS and external users to meet their information needs through the provision of sample design, statistical methods, methodological reviews, tender evaluations, data analysis and statistical training services.

Achievements during the year included:
  • provision of methodological advice on the evaluation of tenders for AusAID and the Department of Family and Community Services;
  • methodological advice relating to the development of the Survey of Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia, for the Department of Family and Community Services;
  • assistance in applying a quality framework to developing standards for performance indicators, for the Australian National Audit Office;
  • partnership with the Australian National Audit Office to supply methodological and training services;
  • analytical services to the Australian National Audit Office, the Australian National Library, the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research and the Commonwealth Ombudsman;
  • provision of advice on methodology for valuations of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian National Library, the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial;
  • provision of sample design advice to the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business; Australia Post; the Australian Taxation Office; the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts; and the New South Wales State Transit Authority; and
  • assistance to the Information Technology Skills Hub for the Survey of Information Technology Skills in Australia.

Statistical Coordination

The statistical coordination component is responsible for the development and operation of the Commonwealth Government Statistical Clearing House. The Statistical Clearing House was established in July 1997 in response to a recommendation of the Small Business Deregulation Task Force. All surveys conducted by, or on behalf of, the Commonwealth Government, involving 50 or more businesses, are subject to review and approval by the Statistical Clearing House prior to data collection.

The Statistical Clearing House has three main objectives: to reduce the load imposed by the Commonwealth Government on business, particularly small business, by eliminating duplication, and ensuring that the design and conduct of business surveys follows good practices; to improve the value of survey outputs by improving the quality of survey methods used; and to improve the use of survey outputs by improving access to documentation of these outputs.

Achievements during the year included:
  • the release of the new Statistical Clearing House website with improved functionality and a wealth of reference materials aimed at encouraging good collection design practices;
  • considerable progress on the implementation of the recommendations from the review of the performance of the Statistical Clearing House;
  • dissemination of agency reports to agency heads and survey liaison officers;
  • continuous improvement of the survey clearance process, review criteria and information template through stakeholder consultations;
  • continuous improvement on identification of non-ABS surveys through enhanced networks with non-ABS agencies;
  • a continued large number of reviews completed annually. Of the reviews completed in the year, 39% (42 reviews) have resulted in an improvement to the survey or a reduction in respondent burden; and
  • the continued loading of survey information to the Commonwealth Business Surveys Register.

Australian Economic Indicators

The Australian economic indicators sub-component publishes Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0), a monthly compendium of key national, State and international economic time series. It also contains feature articles, provides a quarterly economic review of the economy, and reports an experimental composite leading indicator of the Australian business cycle.

The February 2001 issue contained longer time spans of data than the regular monthly issue. For example, it contained the last forty observations of quarterly national accounts data (complementing Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (Cat. no. 5206.0) that contains only the last nine observations).

Statistical Services and User Liaison

The statistical services and user liaison component provides a flexible and responsive service to meet priority statistical needs of State and Territory Governments, additional to those met by ongoing statistical activities of the ABS. The work is undertaken by ABS regional offices and generally takes the form of statistical consultation (such as design, development and conduct of a survey), statistical analysis, modelling of existing ABS or client data, statistical training and the presentation of seminars for a broad range of clients. Officers are also outposted to State or Territory government agencies to carry out specific short-term statistical assignments.

Through this component, the ABS participates in bodies established by State or Territory Governments to coordinate their statistical activities and requirements. This component also maintains bilateral contact with State and Territory government departments and agencies in order to be aware of their needs for statistics, their statistical activities and their use of information from existing collections, and to encourage the adoption of uniform statistical standards and practices. An important role is to be closely involved in the development and conduct of annual State-specific household surveys, the topics of which vary from State to State.

Achievements during the year included:
  • conduct of various household surveys, including crime and safety (South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales); managing caring responsibilities and paid employment (New South Wales); leisure and culture participation (Tasmania);
  • development of a set of interpretive guidelines for users of statistics relating to child protection and substitute care for the New South Wales Department of Community Services;
  • development of a regional statistical framework to support the measurement of economic, environment and social wellbeing in Victoria;
  • a review of the availability and quality of information about Indigenous students for the Northern Territory Department of Education to enable improved monitoring and reporting of educational measures and outcomes;
  • conduct of a data management project for Territory Housing (Northern Territory) to improve information for policy development and evaluation; and national reporting requirements for the National Housing Data Agreement, and the Agreement on National Indigenous Housing Information;
  • assistance to the South Australian Government in the conduct of surveys of the environment and spatial industries, and of the labour force participation of school students in South Australia;
  • investigation of the feasibility of producing quantifiable risk factors for the occurrence of personal injury of persons attending large outdoor events;
  • statistical and methodological support for the development of a Victorian Hospital Costs Index, and resource allocation formula in child protection services;
  • development of a draft alternative view of the food industry which provides statistical framework for the measurement of outputs and inputs for the industry, and completed investigative work on an alternative view of the defence industry;
  • conduct of an audit of data on Indigenous deaths in the Australian Capital Territory;
  • assistance to the TVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research with the development and conduct of a Survey of Aboriginal Child Health in Western Australia;
  • advice on appropriate measures, and identification of benchmark data sources, for Tasmania Together; and
  • review of the administrative data holdings of the Department of Primary Industry, Water and the Environment (Tasmania).

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