Dissemination and printing policy
Policy and principles
The Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines stipulate that a basic set of information products and services, funded by the taxpayer, should be provided to the community free of charge as ‘public goods’ and other information, products and services beyond the basic information set should be cost recovered. Consistent with this policy, the ABS dissemination principles ensure that:
- all users, including the general community, have free and easy access to a basic set of official statistics predominantly through the ABS website
- where it is cost effective to do so, the costs of producing and providing information products and services that are additional to the basic set of official statistics are recovered from the users of these additional products.
The objectives of the ABS charging policy are to:
Community service obligation
- reduce the need for the general taxpayer to bear those elements of the cost of the statistical service which have a specific and identifiable value to particular users
- rationalise use of ABS products and services
- enable the demand for ABS products and services to be used as an indicator of how ABS resources should be used.
The ABS fulfils the community service obligation for statistics by:
Approaches to cost recovery
- including all published ABS information in the basic set, which is available for access on the ABS website, free of charge
- providing a self-service for generating statistical tables from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing
- providing a range of self-service statistical literacy resources via the ABS website, free of charge
- offering a National Information and Referral Service.
Products in the basic set may be provided in alternative formats on request by the user. Pricing is based on the marginal costs incurred in producing them in these formats, for example, the costs to the ABS to print and despatch a hard copy of materials to users, or access to Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs).
For products beyond the basic set, such as customised extraction of data, pricing is based on incremental (or avoidable) costs. The ABS may also price a limited range of products on a commercial basis. This occurs where such products and services compete, or may compete, with similar products provided by others.
Most of the ABS’s free, subscription and customised data outputs (except CURFs) are covered by Creative Commons licensing. This licence empowers users to use or re-purpose ABS data without seeking ABS permission, provided that ABS is attributed as the source for that information.