The Statistical Services Program provides specialist services to meet new and ongoing demands in statistics. Much of the work has the goal of ensuring the methods underlying ABS outputs are based on sound, defensible statistical principles and are cost effective.
The program has specific responsibilities for supporting the statistical collection process. It provides advice on survey design and methods, and on data quality, through all stages of the survey cycle; and undertakes research on statistical methods to improve the efficiency and accuracy of ABS work. The program provides leadership in developing the future methodological infrastructure of the ABS.
The program also manages the Australian Government Statistical Clearing House, to minimise the load on businesses and to improve the quality of business survey outputs.
The program’s main internal products include specialist support for survey design, estimation and other survey-related issues, including the use of administrative data for improving efficiency or effectiveness of statistical products, as well as developing and adapting new methods to meet future needs. The program applies operation research techniques to improve the cost efficiency of ABS collections. It conducts quality reviews of methods and statistical products that contribute to improvements in data quality and to reductions in the load on providers. The program also supports the development of training courses on mathematical, statistical and other methodological issues for all ABS staff.
Externally, in conjunction with Analytical Services, the program produces and publishes a series of Methodology Advisory Committee Papers (ABS cat. nos. 1352.0.55.001-13220.127.116.11), which present the results of current research or analysis, often of an experimental nature, to facilitate expert discussion and comment. In addition, guidelines on current best practices of statistical methodology are also produced (ABS cat. no. 1500.0).
The Statistical Clearing House produces an annual report of all surveys directed to businesses conducted by Commonwealth agencies during each fiscal year, and promulgates and promotes survey best practices in agencies conducting business surveys.
The main medium-term developments are to:
- develop methodological architecture for supporting future ABS statistical collections and products – due June 2013
- improve survey data collection efficiency by using para-data for more dynamic and adaptive survey data operations – due June 2013
- develop methods (editing, autocorrection and imputation) for cleaning administrative data in preparation for statistical uses – due June 2013
- develop methods for dealing with missing data for more complex statistical products (derived from linked data, administrative data) – due June 2014
- develop methodologies for supporting multi-modal data collection for conduct and processing of the Census of Population and Housing and household surveys – due June 2014
- develop the sampling framework and procedures to support list-based sampling, harness administrative data and utilise address information in delivering more efficient designs and more efficient identification of subpopulations of interest for household surveys – due December 2014
Statistical Services Branch