Open access to official statistics on the economic and social condition of a country and its population is an essential element of a democracy. The ABS attaches considerable importance to easy and widespread access by all levels of governments, and the community generally, to the statistics it compiles.
ABS Pricing Policy follows the latest government guidelines on cost recovery by information agencies. The Department of Finance website, www.finance.gov.au, provides the Australian Government Charging Framework.
Community Service Obligations
To meet its Community Service Obligations for statistics, publications, either in HTML or PDF format, and associated publication tables, are available via self service at no charge on the ABS website. More detailed Census data is also available via self service at no charge from the ABS website. Simple inquiries for ABS data are handled free of charge. These free products and services comprise the ABS Basic Information Set, including:
- contents of the ABS website
- collection activities, statistical analysis and processing of surveys to final unit record file, including collection and processing of microdata files
- National Information Referral Service (NIRS)
- secure lock up services.
Users wanting information or services that are beyond that provided by the Basic Information Set are required to pay relevant costs, including overheads, incurred beyond the costs of collection and production of clean unit record files from which the information is produced. ABS Pricing Policy provides for three bases for setting prices:
- pricing based on marginal costs for the additional dissemination of the Basic Information Set
- pricing based on incremental costs for products and services additional to the Basic Information Set, and,
- 'commercial' pricing, based on competitive neutrality principles, for products and services which could compete with similar products provided by the private sector.
ABS Pricing Principles
The principles underpinning ABS Pricing Policy are set out below.
Principle 1: ABS is committed to open access to official statistics by all levels of governments, and the community generally.
Principle 2: ABS will provide free access channels to the Basic Information Set funded by appropriation.
Principle 3: The ABS will recover the costs of accessing the Basic Information Set via non-free access channels (e.g. print on demand) on a marginal cost basis.
Principle 4: Where cost effective to do so, the ABS will recover the costs of producing and providing information products and services that are additional to the Basic Information Set, including salaries, operating and capital costs and associated overheads, from users.
Principle 5: The ABS will recover the costs of products and services provided in addition to the Basic Information Set, on an incremental cost basis for those which only the ABS can provide (e.g. due to confidentiality considerations), and on a commercial cost basis, for those which may compete with products and services provided by other suppliers.
Principle 6: The ABS will set its pricing policy, in conformity with Government guidelines on Cost Recovery and Competitive Cost Neutrality, with a view to:
- relieving the general taxpayer of those elements of the cost of the statistical service which have a specific and identifiable value to particular users
- enabling the demand for ABS products and services to be used as one indicator of how ABS resources should be used, and
- encouraging users to address their real needs for ABS statistical products.
Principle 7: The ABS strongly encourages secondary provision of ABS data. We will recover the cost of creation and provision of customised data dissemination and product creation from on providers of ABS information. The ABS releases most data, including customised data, under the AusGOAL open licensing framework in compliance with Australian Government's commitment to provide open access to Public Sector Information.
Principle 8: The ABS provides technical assistance to international agencies and other countries. Wherever possible it will use the applicable AusAID pricing schedule, which approximates charging on a marginal cost basis. Exceptions apply in the following situations:
- where the work is tendered in a competitive situation, the ABS will quote on a commercial cost basis
- where international agencies have their own standard rates, the ABS may choose to apply those rates, and
- consistent with our international policy, ABS may partially recover, or waive, its costs for statistical work associated with international engagement if it is a strategically important initiative that the ABS has decided to support, and/or there are important staff development opportunities .
Principle 9: The Australian Statistician or his delegate may, where public interest issues are involved, decide to charge products and services on other bases.
Principle 10: In all cases where costs are recovered, the ABS will charge "efficient costs" i.e. the minimum costs necessary to deliver products and services that are fit for purpose.
Principle 11: ABS will use simple and cost effective pricing schedules and administrative systems.
For further information, submit an online query using the Contact us form.