5216.0.55.002 - Information Paper: Quality Dimensions of the Australian National Accounts, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/08/2007  First Issue
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Contents >> Quality frameworks >> The ABS data quality framework


The ABS has built its own quality framework adapted from the one developed by Statistics Canada. While similar to the DQAF in structure, the ABS quality framework adopts a less detailed, more product oriented approach to quality assessment compared with the more holistic approach of the IMF framework which has a more international focus in order to be relevant for statistical systems that are in various stages of development. For instance, the ABS framework does not cover the governance, institutional and organisational arrangements of the statistical organisation; it takes the DQAF dimensions of 'prerequisites' and 'integrity' as external to the definition of quality. Notwithstanding these differences in emphasis, both approaches should be considered as complementary ways of assessing data quality.

The ABS quality framework identifies the following six dimensions of quality:

  • relevance
  • accuracy
  • timeliness
  • accessibility
  • interpretability
  • coherence.

In using this framework, it is important to understand that these six dimensions of quality are not independent of each other. The various elements of quality have a complex relationship and any action taken to address or modify one aspect of quality may affect one or more of the other elements. For example, all the other dimensions of quality impact on relevance and information provided to ensure statistics are interpretable will also serve to define coherence. Inevitably trade-offs must also be made between accuracy and timeliness, between continuity over time and revisions, between depth and completeness and response burden on data suppliers. Despite such dependencies and conflicts, the six dimensions can provide a useful basis for examining how quality should be managed within a statistical organisation. Achieving an acceptable level of quality is the result of addressing, managing, and balancing the various factors or elements that constitute better quality. Paying attention to the program objectives, the major uses of the data, costs and conditions that affect quality and user expectations is also important in determining an acceptable level of quality. The decision and actions that achieve this balance are based on knowledge, experience, reviews, user consultation and feedback, and judgement.

The following table defines each of the six dimensions of the ABS quality framework and describes their relationship to the national accounts statistical program. The third column of the table provides a brief summary of the mechanisms used by the ABS to assure quality in relation to each of the quality dimensions.

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