8129.0 - Business Use of Information Technology, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/08/2013   
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The statistics presented in this release are compiled from the 2011-12 Business Characteristics Survey (BCS). The BCS provides population/cross sectional estimates for a range of business characteristics topics and themes (e.g. use of IT and Innovation). The survey also provides characteristics data for the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD). The BCS is conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS) is the strategy for bringing together the collection of business characteristics statistics. The BCS is the survey instrument for the IBCS.

The data collected by the BCS supports the BLD and are used to build a statistical longitudinal database for public and private sector analysts. It aims to provide users with business characteristics data augmented with financial data from administrative sources and other existing ABS surveys. Access to the BLD is through a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF).

The IBCS specifies the collection of annual point in time core characteristics data including key indicators of information technology (IT) use and innovation with more detailed information collected for these two topics in alternating years. Population and cross-classified outputs can be produced for most BCS content not just use of IT and innovation. The much larger volume of characteristics data (particularly, annual indicators of innovation and the ability to produce cross-classified outputs) has expanded the range of information available about Australian business. These additional outputs represent a substantial increase in the nature and volume of this type of information.


The reference period for characteristics items included in the 2011-12 BCS is during the year ended 30 June 2012 or as at 30 June 2012. Financial data relates to the most recent financial year ended on or before 30 September 2012.

The 2011-12 Business Characteristics Survey forms were mailed to businesses from late October through to early November 2012. Key indicators related to IT use and innovation in Australian business are published within 12 months of the end of the reference period. Subsequent, more detailed, releases are published in the 2-3 months after the first release.


The ABS aims to produce high quality data from its industry collections, while minimising the reporting burden on businesses. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into survey and questionnaire design, collection procedures and processing.

The approach to quality assurance for the BCS aims to make the best use of ABS resources to meet user prioritised requirements, both in terms of data quality and timing of release. The approach specifies the level and degree to which each data item is quality assured, noting that only some of the total output from the BCS is able to be quality assured to the highest standards. Different priorities are assigned to groups of data items, with highest priority being assigned to key point in time data on business use of IT and innovation.

The 2011-12 BCS had a response rate of 95%. Some of the items collected in the BCS are dynamic in nature and the concepts measured are subject to evolution and refinement over time. As changes are made to the questions, survey scope and survey procedures; it is not possible to measure the impact of all of these changes on data quality.

In this publication, indications of sampling variability are measured by relative standard errors (RSEs). The relative standard error is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to sampling, and thus avoids the need to refer to the size of the estimate. To annotate proportion estimates, a value of 50% has been used in the calculation of RSE rather than the estimated proportion from the survey data. This avoids inconsistencies between the way very low and very high proportions are annotated. Relative standard errors for estimates in this publication have been calculated using the actual standard error and the survey estimate (referred to as x) in the following manner: RSE%(x) = (SE(x)*100)/50

For more information about the sampling errors, please refer to the Technical Note for this release.


There are established international frameworks or reporting models for the collection of IT and innovation data (i.e. the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) model questionnaire and OSLO manual respectively). The application of these in ABS collections is in the context of the Australian situation and, for some elements, it is not appropriate to adhere to the framework. Similarly, suggested question wording has only ever been used as a starting point. In this context, where possible these frameworks are used in the BCS. However, some compromise with the use of established frameworks and concepts to balance BLD and BCS population estimate requirements with the available resources is also required.

The System of National Accounts and the Australian Accounting Standards are used for directly collected or administrative data as appropriate. The survey uses Standard Question Wording (which are used in most ABS economic business-based collections) to collect standard financial data items. A core set of characteristics questions have been developed.


Further information on the technical aspects (including item definitions) associated with the statistics from the BCS can be found in the Explanatory Notes and Glossary associated with this release.


Outputs from the 2011-12 BCS will be available in the following suite of electronic releases and associated data cubes:

    Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8166.0); released 20 June 2013
    Business Use of Information Technology, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8129.0); released 22 August 2013; and
    Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8167.0), release date 19 September 2013.

These are available free of charge from the ABS website.