1002.0 - Australian Statistics Advisory Council - Annual Report, 2016-17  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/10/2017   
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THE YEAR AHEAD: 2017–18

ABS Forward Work Program Priorities

The Council supports the strategic priorities of the ABS Forward Work Program in 2017–18, which are:

    • Maintaining the quality of official statistics – including through prioritisation of statistical products.
    • Transforming the ABS to meet future needs and opportunities – including through the Statistical Business Transformation Program and cultural change.
    • Maximising the value of public data through data integration and improved microdata access – including implementation of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA).

ASAC will continue to advise the ABS in each of those areas as well as on appropriate strategies to manage risk without stifling innovation and collaboration. The Council accepts the need for continued high priority and low tolerance for risk in relation to the National Accounts, Consumer Price Index, Labour Force Statistics and Estimated Resident Population.

In 2018, the ABS will undertake its biennial Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment. The Council will continue to provide feedback on progress in achieving effective stakeholder relationships, including participation in the assessment.

2021 Census of Population and Housing

Planning for the next five yearly Census has already begun, and ASAC has been taking a close interest in a number of aspects.

The Council welcomes the steps being taken by the ABS to embed learnings from the events of 2016 (including acting on findings and recommendations from the MacGibbon Review, the Senate Census Inquiry and the Census Independent Assurance Panel). Council members will continue to offer advice in a number of areas crucial to achieving good outcomes, including governance, risk management, partnerships and communications. In the case of governance, the Council considers that the ABS has established a robust framework, including renewed provision for independent advice and assurance.

The Council will seek to assist the ABS further to the extent that significant public concerns or media issues arise. At the same time, where appropriate, members will provide support for the Census and encourage participation in community consultation.

Reform of Australia’s Statistical System

The Government’s forthcoming response to the final report of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Data Availability and Use will have significant implications for the development of Australia’s data and statistical system.

The Council will continue to engage in this work, recognising the need to:
    • achieve legislative reform to regulate digital data to enable better sharing and release of data
    • apply a risk-based approach to data sharing and release
    • identify, and invest in, high-value or nationally significant datasets
    • implement data management standards to support increased data availability and use.

Remaking the Statistics Determination

ASAC is providing advice to the ABS on changes that could be made to the Statistics Determination 1983 (the Determination). The Determination allows for the release or disclosure of certain statistical information, provided that is not likely to enable the identification of a person. The Determination was last updated in 2004 and is due to lapse in October 2018.

The remaking of the Determination provides an important opportunity to consider whether it remains fit for purpose, given the growing need for data to support research, innovation, policy and decision making. Possible changes will also recognise expectations of appropriate access, and the crucial importance of preserving the trust of those providing information. A public consultation process will be conducted by the Australian Department of the Treasury in conjunction with the ABS. ASAC has emphasised the importance of effective consultation and engagement processes to achieving the right outcome.

Data Integration Partnership for Australia

The Council welcomes the recent announcement by the Government that it will fund the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA), and the key role for the ABS as the primary integrating authority. The DIPA is a co-ordinated Australian Public Service investment to maximise the use and value of government data through their greater integration, enabling more cost effective and timely policy evaluation and development, and service delivery. It will make possible new insights about families, communities, industries and the economy as a whole.

The Government’s investment amounts to just over $130 million and includes $38 million for the ABS’ contribution over the years 2017–18 to 2019–20. The DIPA involves three components:
    • building social licence for data use and sharing
    • developing enduring data assets
    • a hub and spoke model for data analysis to address complex, cross-portfolio projects.

The Council notes that the DIPA builds on extensive work by the ABS on data integration over the last fifteen years, and forms part of the broader ABS data integration program. Data integration remains a priority for the ABS into the future – both strategically and operationally. Within the first year, the Council will assist the ABS by advising on key deliverables, including:
    • robust governance arrangements
    • ongoing development of enduring data assets and associated infrastructure to support policy analytical needs
    • prioritisation of the broader ABS data integration program.