1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2013-14  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/11/2014   
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STRATEGIES, SERVICES AND TECHNOLOGY

TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

ICT is fundamental to the ABS achieving its mission of leading a high quality and responsive national statistical service. Effective management of information technology allows the ABS to continually improve access to statistical data and services, while maintaining security and integrity standards. The Technology Services Division (TSD) supports all areas of the ABS in the delivery of business outcomes through the effective and innovative application of information technology.

In 2013–14 TSD continued to support existing statistical programs, but had a focus on strategic technology investments in enabling infrastructure to support future directions and detailed plans for the ABS’s 2017 transformation program.

ICT services are delivered nationally, to staff in the ABS’s central and regional offices, to ABS interviewers who work from home and in the field, and to ABS data providers and clients. Technology is being implemented to further improve flexible working arrangements and in support of activity-based working office layouts which provides future savings.

Partnerships between TSD and business areas and with the 2017 Program team have been critical to prioritise the ICT work program within tight fiscal constraints. External engagement with ICT government communities and international statistical organisations has been directed towards best practice approaches, continued standards development and opportunities for collaboration.

To support ABS business transformation, TSD continued to build capability in the delivery of enterprise solutions, through a Service Oriented Architecture Competency Centre. Together with training in and adoption of agile methods, this will facilitate improvements in the design and delivery of enterprise technology solutions. A risk assessment of the current applications portfolio was completed, and applications and technology architectures were progressed in support of the ABS Enterprise Architecture.

There continue to be a number of issues, risks and challenges to the ICT forward work program. The risk profile of the current technology environment and business continuity is increasing and the very tight fiscal environment requires sharp prioritisation to maintain existing statistical programs with insufficient investment for transformation and future requirements. TSD is also challenged in its ability to maintain the range of technology skill sets required for support and to build new capabilities for the future, including addressing growing requirements for effective security measures in the face of more sophisticated cyber security threats.

Key achievements in 2013–14

  • The ICT Strategy has been refreshed and redeveloped, with technology directions focused on enabling: a digital workforce; enterprise capability for statistics in a connected, digital world; and ‘Open ABS’ (web forms and online data collection).
  • In collaboration with MDMD, a ‘big data’ strategy has been developed, outlining the opportunities, challenges and initiatives to progress the use of big data in official statistics, and to identify partnerships—with problem owners, technical collaborators, and data custodians.
  • A new model for applications support was implemented with work planned and prioritised through improved risk management activities to ensure effective support of ongoing statistical programs.
  • TSD has worked with the 2017 Program group to develop detailed plans, approach and costs for ABS business transformation, and to prepare for independent reviews. This has included solution architectures and options, transformation project plans, cyber security plans, infrastructure strategies, and capacity and capability planning.
  • Delivery of the Metadata Register and Repository and the Statistical Workflow Management system took place as part of foundation infrastructure for future ABS.
  • Substantial progress has been made in the development of technology infrastructure and applications for the Census 2016 program including: an enhanced Address Register; a mobile application to support field force canvassing and enumeration tasks, and automated workload allocation; provider portal website; eCensus web form; and operations management tools. Support was provided for the Census test
    in August 2013. Preparations are in hand for supporting a further, major test in August 2014.
  • A number of independent assessments and reviews of security were conducted, and projects progressed to strengthen controls through initiatives such as the refreshing of Identity and Access Management, and Application White Listing.
  • International collaboration continued with many countries including Statistics New Zealand, National Statistics Institute (Italy), Statistics Canada and the OECD. Statistical aid work supporting Pacific Island nations included a strategy for ICT collaboration and the development of educational units related to technology and statistics for Fiji.
  • National collaboration continued in the areas of data integration, data analytics, identity access management, and contributing to the development of whole-of-government technology strategies.
  • A strategy for end user and mobile computing was developed and work is in progress to deliver the technologies for a more efficient and flexible working environment including teleworking, activity-based working, and wifi to all offices.

CORPORATE SERVICES

Corporate Services provides leadership and strategic support to assist the ABS and its employees to meet business objectives. Services are provided directly to employees and indirectly through a support and coordination role which includes policy advice, framework development and internal consultancy. Within an environment of continuous improvement, Corporate Services:

provides timely, relevant, high quality services to meet the changing needs of internal and external clients
provides leadership to the ABS in the areas of culture, leadership capability development and financial and people management, including the provision of high quality and timely management information
positions the ABS to meet its current and future workforce needs by providing a full range of services to support the Human Resources life-cycle from recruitment through to retirement
provides leadership, support and guidance to ensure the ABS is maximising individual employees’ potential engages and influences stakeholders to ensure the ABS’s interests are accommodated, including in whole-of-government initiatives
offers services to support the physical working environment, including implementing changes associated with the strategic use of property and space management
provides leadership and consultancy on workforce planning, budgeting, business continuity and financial reporting, financial policies and support
maintains and develops corporate support systems and services.

Key achievements in 2013–14
  • A successful pilot of the People Capability Framework and Evaluation process was undertaken; this has contributed to supporting high quality individual development discussions between managers and their staff and has assisted in identifying organisation-wide capability development priorities. Further development of the ABS workforce planning framework has been achieved through the development and delivery of enhanced metrics, reporting and scenario planning in the areas of staffing affordability, capability and workforce profiling.
  • The Managing for Performance Improvement Program was developed in 2013 and commenced roll-out in October 2013 to all ABS EL staff via workshops in each ABS office. The number of managers now working with their staff through performance improvement plans has increased as a direct result of the program.
  • The ABS Workplace Diversity Action Plan 2013–17 and the ABS Reconciliation Action Plan 2013–16 were implemented to recognise, support and enhance diversity in the
    ABS workforce and broader community.
  • The ABS Agency Multicultural Plan 2013–15, setting out obligations for the organisation across different dimensions of multicultural access and equity policy, was developed and launched.
  • The Business Centre was formed to quickly deploy staff into short-term funded projects across the ABS to support development of new and existing skills for staff, increase capability and allow for completion of short-term projects. This has enabled the development of best practice in creating a one-team culture for virtual teams, and increased flexible working across the ABS by having a pool of experienced staff who can be deployed on various projects, in various locations.
  • A technological and cultural transformation towards blended learning, including integration of typical face-to-face training with learning interventions delivered through electronic media, has been undertaken. Significant development and uptake in e-learning has enabled more flexible access, and reduced travel expenditure. In addition, ABS is supporting re-use through strategic links with other APS agencies to share e-learning content, for example privacy and social media.
  • Leadership and support was provided for coordination of the Australian Public Service Commission capability review of the ABS.
  • ABS’s participation in the 2013 State of the Service Employee Census was managed, including reporting, analysis and the development of team action planning infrastructure to monitor and enhance staff engagement.
  • The key performance indicators (KPIs) for the Executive Leadership Group and Senior Management Group were reviewed and aligned to the objectives in the ABS’s Portfolio Budget Statement to help prepare the ABS for commencement of the Wellbeing@ABS, a comprehensive strategy for building and fostering a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, was launched.
  • The ABS continued to take a strong lead role in statistical capability development in Asia and the Pacific region. Regional development programs include Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Seychelles, and a regional Pacific program covering 14 countries. In late 2013, the ABS completed a three-year program to strengthen Pacific statistics, the success of which should enable the signing of a further three-year Record of Understanding with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) commencing in 2015.