1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2003-04  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/10/2004   
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Contents >> Section 1 - Summary of Operations >> Chapter 2 - How the ABS Operates - Role and Operation of the ABS

Outcome and Objectives

ABS Outcome

The ABS Outcome, as set out in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2003-04, is as follows:

Informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community based on the provision of a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

This outcome is consistent with the ABS Mission as described in the ABS Corporate Plan.

ABS Output

Within the context of the Portfolio Budget Statements, the Australian Bureau of Statistics - National Statistical Service, produces and disseminates statistics in two key areas to meet the above outcome; viz:

Output 1 - Economic Statistics

Output 2 - Population and Social Statistics.

The process of producing and disseminating these statistics is, in turn, assisted by a wide range of support services.

ABS Objectives

To achieve the ABS Mission, the ABS is pursuing the following objectives in respect of both the Economic Statistics and the Population and Social Statistics Outputs:

  • an expanded and improved national statistical service
  • an ABS statistical service that is timely, relevant, responsive, and respected for its integrity and quality
  • informed and increased use of statistics
  • an active contributor to international statistical activities that are important to Australia or our region
  • an organisation that encourages learning, innovation, performance and excellence in all it does
  • the trust and cooperation of our providers
  • strong recognition and support for the ABS amongst decision makers and the community.

Organisational Structure and Senior Management

The ABS is headed by the Australian Statistician - a statutory office. Appendix 3 lists the senior management team which supports the Australian Statistician, and their program responsibilities.

The statistical operations of the ABS are divided into two groups: the Economic Statistics Group and the Population Statistics Group. Each group is headed by a Deputy Australian Statistician. These two groups represent the key dichotomy of ABS statistics between economic statistics and population and social statistics.

Each Deputy Australian Statistician is supported by a First Assistant Statistician, one for the Economic Accounts Division and one for the Social and Labour Division. Other First Assistant Statisticians are responsible for the Technology Services, Methodology, Information Management and Corporate Services Divisions, all of which support the statistical operations.

The ABS has a central office in Canberra and eight regional offices - one in each state and territory. The regional offices have operational responsibility for particular statistical collections, but overall program responsibility remains in Central Office. Regional offices have a key role in maintaining close contact with state clients, particularly state government agencies and ABS data providers.


The ABS maintains close contact with its users through a variety of mechanisms, including advisory committees, user groups, outposted statistical officers, conferences and seminars, and day-to-day contact in the course of disseminating statistical information. The Australian Statistician determines which statistics are to be collected, after full discussion with users, clients and the Australian Statistics Advisory Council. The results are made widely available. The independent status of the Australian Statistician is specified in law, and the ABS has always received strong parliamentary and community support.

In order to provide official statistics, the ABS undertakes a large number of collections. These include the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing, monthly and quarterly surveys that provide current economic indicators and less frequent collections from industry and households that provide detailed information on specific economic and social issues. The ABS also devotes considerable effort, in close cooperation with Australian, state and territory administrative agencies, to producing statistics as a by-product of administrative systems and in so doing improve the efficiency of the organisation and reduce the reporting workload on the community. The ABS also works to ensure that its statistical standards and concepts are applied as widely as possible to ensure that statistical outputs from all agencies are consistent and of good quality.

In releasing statistics, the ABS adheres to long established principles that results of statistical collections should be made available as soon as practicable and should be available to all users at the same time. Most Australians find out about official statistics through the media. The ABS provides publications to media organisations at no cost, and the principal results from ABS publications are highlighted daily in the print and electronic media. The main features of ABS publications are also made available via the ABS web site. A large core set of statistics are made available through public, technical and tertiary libraries across Australia, while members of parliament are provided complimentary access to all ABS publications. The ABS@ and AusStats subscription services provided users with ready access to ABS material in electronic format, including all ABS publications and a range of multi-dimensional datasets.

Under the Statistics (Arrangements with States) Act 1956, Commonwealth and state statistical services have been integrated in all states since 1958 (in Tasmania since 1924). Although not covered by the Act, similar arrangements apply in both territories. In Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, the Regional Director administering the ABS Regional Office is also the State Government Statistician. A government statistical coordination and consultative mechanism operates in most states and territories. There is regular consultation with state and territory governments on statistical priorities.

Major documents providing additional information on the operations of the ABS include:

  • ABS Corporate Plan
  • Forward Work Program 2004-05 to 2006-07
  • Client Service Charter
  • Business Surveys Charter.

These documents are available on the ABS web site or on request.

A wide range of additional information about the ABS, including the legislative framework and pricing policy, is available on the ABS web site.

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