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1395.0 - Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2013  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/03/2013  First Issue
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PHASE 3 - ESSENTIAL STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

WHY IDENTIFY A LIST OF ESSENTIAL STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE?

During the development of the preliminary list of ESA for Australia and the subsequent consultation process, a number of supporting elements of statistical infrastructure were identified as essential for the creation of the statistics on the list of ESA for Australia.

As they did not fit into the scope of the ESA for Australia initiative (which focuses on statistics and datasets), the need for a list of supporting Essential Statistical Infrastructure (ESI) was identified and endorsed by ASAC at its November 2012 meeting.

The value of undertaking this process is that improvements in the quality of statistics are also possible through investment in improvements to the underlying infrastructure used to generate statistics. It would also assist with the quality assessment phase and furthermore, highlight the significant investment required to maintain these infrastructure assets, which is often unrecognised.


WHAT IS STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE?

Statistical infrastructure refers to tools which support the operation of a statistical system. These tools can help to organise the statistical system, improve efficiency, add value, create new outputs or simply perform tasks within the system.

The scope of statistical infrastructure for ESI potentially includes the following:

  • principles, policies and legislation (e.g. United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics);
  • frames and registers (e.g. the Geocoded National Address File, Australian Business Register);
  • frameworks (e.g. System of National Accounts, Balance of Payments Manual, System of Environmental and Economic Accounts, Generic Statistical Business Process Model);
  • standards and classifications (e.g. ANZSIC, ANZSCO, Age, Sex); and
  • analytical tools and systems that are critical to the collection and dissemination of statistical information (e.g. Survey TableBuilder).

The scope is not intended to extend to other enablers required to produce statistics, such as physical buildings, computer hardware, and capable staff with sufficient statistical skills.

There is currently no existing framework that supports the identification of such infrastructure. The ABS is in the early stages of developing such a framework to support other internal initiatives and the intention is to leverage this work to support the development of a list of ESI.


WHAT IS ESSENTIAL STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE?

Essential Statistical Infrastructure is defined as a sub-set of official statistical infrastructure that is fundamental to the creation of high quality statistics. At a minimum, it is expected that the critical statistical infrastructure employed in the creation of statistics featured on the list of ESA for Australia would be included within the list of ESI.

It may be possible that there are other statistical infrastructure assets that deserve to be recognised due to their broad application and usage in official statistics and/or enduring nature.


PROCESS FOR DEVELOPING THE LIST OF ESSENTIAL STATISTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Once the current work within the ABS is sufficiently advanced, the ABS will seek to engage with key stakeholders including custodians of official datasets to obtain broader agreement on the conceptual framework and criteria for identification of ESI assets.

When the foundation work is agreed to, work will commence on a targeted consultation process to identify the list of ESI. It is possible that this work will be undertaken concurrently with the Phase 2 work with data custodians during the remainder of 2013.


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