PHASE 4 - DETERMINING PRIORITIES FOR INVESTMENT
There was a range of feedback querying how the list would be used to reach real investment outcomes and who would be involved in the decision making processes. More clarification about how the process would be reviewed in the future was also sought to ensure relevance to the changing policy questions and providing essential statistics to inform public debate.
Given the cross-sectoral composition of ASAC, and in the absence of an alternative governance body with the authority to bind government agencies at the Australian Government and state and territory levels to investment decisions, the ABS believes that ASAC is the most appropriate forum to endorse the list of ESA for Australia, and also consider the priorities for investment in the statistical system.
ASAC has a mandated role to advise the Minister responsible for the ABS on the priorities for the NSS more broadly. Given the critical role that statistics play in influencing government policy development and evaluation, as well as informing the broader Australian community, ultimately it is hoped that the ESA for Australia initiative is also used to guide government decision making on further priority investments in Australia’s statistical system so that the maximum benefits from the system overall can be realised.
It is anticipated that the views of ASAC will contribute to the ongoing review of the ABS forward work program as currently occurs, which is also influenced by feedback that emanates from the plethora of ABS statistical stakeholder groups that are consulted. In turn, the outcomes from the ESA for Australia initiative will also benefit these stakeholder groups in the future by focusing efforts on the essential statistics contained on the list.
In addition to the work undertaken directly by the ABS, the identification of priorities for investment will also provide direction for areas where the ABS can support agencies at both the Australian Government and state and territory government levels in investing in the official statistical evidence base. There are a range of mechanisms by which this can occur, including collaborative initiatives and the establishment of an ABS outposting at a host agency.
The allocation of resources to support investments in response to the identification of priorities remains with the respective data custodian agencies. Given the limited resources generally available, the ability of an agency to invest in the priorities identified will rely on the respective agency’s prioritising of investment in statistical assets and infrastructure against that agencies other obligations, and against the investment priorities of government more broadly.