1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2006-07  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2007   
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Contents >> Section VI - How the ABS operates >> Chapter 20 - Management of information technology

Section VI - How the ABS operates

Chapter 20 - Management of information technology

Introduction

Information technology is fundamental to the ABS fulfilling its mission of leading a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service. The effective management of information technology allows the ABS to increase access to statistics, ensure the security of sensitive data and statistics, and provide an effective statistical service.

The Technology Services Division works closely with all areas of the ABS, and uses advances in information technology and business improvement techniques to enhance the capability, efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation. The division also provides a nationwide computing and communications infrastructure to support the ABS in all its locations including central office, regional offices and for the interviewer workforce.

Under the guidance of the Information Resource Management Committee (see Chapter 19 Management of human resources), the ABS has continued to manage information technology facilities effectively and efficiently. The Technology Services Division contributes in these key areas:

    • supporting an effective statistical work program, with the appropriate technology
    • evolving the ABS technology environment and technology services to enhance productivity and innovation
    • supporting professional practice in areas such as project management, enterprise architecture, business process improvement and capital planning to maximise the success of ABS endeavours
    • strategic planning for the technology, and approaches to technology that the ABS will need, and
    • collaborating with other organisations in relation to technology.
There have been a number of key achievements relating to the successful processing of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, including:
    • completion of the first eCensus, in partnership with IBM, enabling people to complete their 2006 Census online (for which ABS received an information technology industry award, an eGovernment Award for Excellence; and was a finalist for a Computer World Honours)
    • use of SMS and voice technology to increase the responsiveness of field staff to respondents requests, and
    • development and release of new web-based dissemination facilities for census outputs.
In addition, the Technology Services Division has assisted in the advancement of other areas of the ABS statistical work in the following areas:
    • automated processing of a record number of returns from the 2005–06 Agricultural Census
    • establishment of metadata services to increase consistency across surveys
    • broad-scale reuse of common infrastructure solutions to meet the processing requirements of business surveys
    • increased automation of statistical techniques such as editing, estimation and imputation, and
    • enhancing the capture of quality metrics to aid the analysis of statistics.
Scanners used to read census forms at the Data Processing Centre in Melbourne
Scanners used to read census forms at the Data Processing Centre in Melbourne

In relation to professional practice, the ABS has adopted a Business Process Management Framework for achieving improvements in core statistical and business processes. The framework provides effective tools for business improvement and reengineering. As part of this, the ABS has increased the use of business activity monitoring to focus efficiency initiatives by measuring processes and identifying areas needing further work.

The ABS has recently developed a Technology Research Portfolio to ensure the organisation is well placed to understand technology opportunities and challenges. Business drivers and emerging technologies are matched and explored to understand the potential for use in future systems.

The ABS continues to lead collaborative efforts on the National Data Network in partnership with a number of agencies. The National Data Network platform enables sharing and integration of statistical data relevant to policy and research. It uses open source technologies and approaches to maximise opportunities for collaborative development. For more information on the National Data Network see Chapter 3 ABS and the national statistical service.

An increased focus on whole-of-government initiatives has seen the ABS as an active participant in the associated committees and forums. It has made strong contributions and is aligning its own activities with these initiatives. The ABS also hosted visits from a number of statistical organisations in other countries to share approaches in managing information technology and contributed to forums such as those of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

eCensus

Use of the eCensus application, which was designed, built and hosted for the ABS by IBM Australia, peaked between 8 pm and 9 pm on census night, 8 August 2006, during which time more than 72 000 online forms were received. In the 24-hour period of turnover August, the eCensus delivered more than 12.5 million page views.

Despite as many as 55 000 households logging on simultaneously at 8.47 pm on census night, the eCensus application delivered 100 per cent availability through the census’ most busy period, from Saturday 5 August to Sunday 13 August. Average page response times remained below one second within the hosted environment.

Overall, 776 000 census forms were submitted electronically, representing 9 per cent of the estimated number of dwellings in Australia.


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