ABS Data Strategy 2021-22 to 2025

Purpose and scope

A dedicated data strategy that is long term, action focused and helps to guide ABS business to deliver public value, will help the ABS fulfil its purpose:
To inform Australia’s important decisions by delivering relevant, trusted and objective data, statistics and insights.

✔ What this strategy is

With consultation across the ABS, this strategy was designed as an overarching approach to support the organisation to maximise the value of data. This strategy:

  • Sets out the ABS vision to maximise the value of data across the organisation and lead in big data use
  • Defines principles and objectives to achieve this vision
  • Explains why the priority components are important and how they help us get closer to our vision
  • Identifies initiatives for action under the strategy
  • Creates accountability for progress by setting out governance and measures for success.

❌ What this strategy is not

This strategy is one of the ABS’ enabling strategies that supports the overall ABS purpose. This strategy supports the Enterprise Strategy and sits alongside other enabling strategies however:

  • This is not a whole of government nor a whole of Australian Public Service (APS) data strategy
  • This is not an enterprise or business strategy or a Corporate Plan
  • This is not an information management strategy
  • This is not an ICT strategy to advance digitalisation of our processes and services, but it recognises that technology is fundamental to maximising the value of data
  • This is not a people capability or workforce strategy, but it recognises that generating value from data involves everyone.

Context

Data have always been a core part of ABS operations, however over the last decade Government entities have recognised that making better use of their data can improve their ability to develop public policy, deliver services, and address complex challenges.

There has also been an enormous increase in data held by the ABS. Technological advances have increased our capacity to acquire, process, store and provide access to data. At the same time, public and business expectations of government have changed. The volume of data available, and the ease with which anyone can produce and disseminate false information, have increased concerns about privacy, and generally reduced trust in institutions.

In recognition of this, a range of activities across the APS and the ABS aim to maximise the value of public sector data, while meeting community expectations. The diagram below provides a snapshot of some key APS and ABS data activities over the last 15 years.

    Snapshot of some key APS and ABS data activities over the last 15 years.
    This diagram provides a snapshot of some key APS and ABS data activities over the last 15 years.

    In the years:
    2005-11
    ABS: Early stages of ABS Data Integration Program, e.g. Census Data Enhancement
    2012-14
    ABS/APS: Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) (established)
    2015-16
    APS: Public Sector Data Policy Statement
    APS: Secretaries and Deputy Secretary Data Groups (established and ongoing)
    ABS/APS: Multi-agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) (established)
    2017
    APS: Productivity Commission Inquiry into Data Availability and Use
    APS: Secretaries and Deputy Secretary Data Groups (ongoing)
    ABS/APS: Data Integration Partnership for Australia
    2018
    APS: Office of the National Data Commissioner (established)
    APS: Data Champions Network
    ABS/APS: Data Integration Partnership for Australia
    2019
    APS: APS Review
    ABS/APS: Data Integration Partnership for Australia

    COVID-19 pandemic began end of 2019

    2020
    APS: Privacy Act Review
    APS: Data and Digital Ministers meeting for jurisdictional data needs
    APS: Data Availability and Transparency legislation (in development)
    ABS/APS: Data Integration Partnership for Australia
    ABS: ABS COVID-19 response
    ABS/APS Data Professional Stream (established)
    ABS: Appointment of ABS CDO and Data Strategy development
    2021
    APS: Data Availability and Transparency legislation (in development)
    APS: PM&C-led Australian Data Strategy (in development)
    ABS/APS: APS Data Professional Stream
    ABS: Data Strategy development

    Opportunities ahead

    Looking at the ABS operating context out to 2025, the strategy reflects the changing nature of our business and identifies a range of drivers and opportunities that affect our use of data in our day-to-day work.

    Download
    The drivers The opportunities
    Some siloed data assets – Some of our existing data assets are division or subject-matter specificWe maximise use of data across the ABS – e.g. big data is collected once and used by many subject matter areas
    Keeping pace with security and protections – We need to continue to keep data safe and meet the expectations of our data providersModern data protections enable us to work with new data sources, and collect direct from providers reducing burden
    Need for clear direction – We need a strategic organisational approach to leverage maximum value from our dataWe maximise value from our own data and data shared with us from other organisations (through greater reuse and integration)
    New expectations of trust – Public expectations and awareness around use of data continue to evolve.We grow our role as a leader in use of data for public good.

    Vision statement

    ‘By 2025, we maximise the value of data across our organisation, and lead in big data use, to deliver relevant, trusted and objective official statistics, insights and data services.’

    We do this to help us fulfil the ABS Purpose

    The ABS’ purpose is to inform Australia’s important decisions by delivering relevant, trusted and objective data, statistics and insights.

    We tell the real story of Australia, its economy and its people by bringing life and meaning to numbers. We are committed to pushing the boundaries of what data can do for Australian communities, businesses and Governments.

    What this means

    ✔ Our vision statement defines our ambition: to maximise the value of data internally to deliver value externally

    ✔ A clear direction to focus on big data and to lead in its use

    ✔ It is not about data for its own sake, but to help us to deliver official statistics, insights and data services and fulfil our purpose

    ✔ This strategy outlines how we can move closer to this vision, by outlining priority areas for 2021–22 and a framework to move us toward 2025.

    Six principles to guide data action in the ABS

    Download
     PrincipleWhy is it important
    1Data is viewed and used as an organisational assetImproves our flexibility to respond to changing information needs. This also pushes us to reuse data across the ABS.
    2Data is open, accessible and discoverable by defaultEnables us to maximise use and re-use of data across the entire organisation.
    3Protection and privacy proportionate to value and riskWe protect and manage risks for data assets based on their value to maintain public trust.
    4We embrace and grow new data capabilitiesWe recognise data capabilities are changing and will continue to uplift our data capabilities.
    5We value data from various sources, and it is effortless to share data with usWe value big public and private sector data sources and surveys and want to ensure our governance processes are streamlined to support data sharing between us and our partners. This encompasses minimising provider burden.
    6We are innovative leaders in the Australian data landscapeAs Australia’s National Statistics Office we want to be at the forefront of innovation in the Australian data landscape.

    Strategic framework

      Strategic framework diagram
      This image outlines the Strategic framework of the Data Strategy.

      The vision statement of ‘By 2025, we maximise the value of data across our organisation, and lead in big data use, to deliver relevant, trusted and objective official statistics, insights and data services’ is included at the top of the image.

      The six principles to guide data action in the ABS are listed next. The six principles are:
      1. Data is viewed and used as an organisational asset
      2. Data is open, accessible and discoverable by default
      3. Protection and privacy proportionate to value and risk
      4. We embrace and grow new data capabilities
      5. We value data from various sources, and it is effortless to share data with us
      6. We are innovative leaders in the Australian data landscape.

      Next are the six objectives, what each objective means and the objective components.

      Objective: Grow data assets
      What it means: We will grow data assets to meet growing information needs
      Components: - Environmental scanning (Incl. needs and new data), - Data acquisition, - Collaboration and partnerships, - Data quality

      Objective: Secure data
      What it means: We will uplift our systems and processes to keep data safe
      Components: - Data protections, - Confidentiality

      Objective: Maintain trust
      What it means: We will build trust of government, businesses and the community
      Components: - Privacy, - Transparency and communication, - Ethics, accountability and usage

      Objective: Build capability
      What it means: We will support and build the data capabilities of our people
      Components: - Statistical capability, - Data capability

      Objective: Harness data
      What it means: We will harness our data holdings to maximise their use
      Components: - Statistical data (Incl. big data), - Organisational data (e.g. MI, workforce data), - Data governance, - Data management, - Data tolls and technology

      Objective: Inform decisions
      What it means: We will communicate our data and insights to help inform Australia's important decisions
      Components: - Communication (statistics and insights), - Channels, - Services (Incl. client experience)

      Strategic priorities for 2021–22

      The following components were identified during consultations as strategic priorities for 2021–22 and were endorsed by the ABS Executive Board. These components are mutually reinforcing and will help us set our foundations to maximise use of data to deliver greater public value. Data Strategy priorities will be re-assessed annually and other components will be a focus in future years.

        Strategic priorities for 2021-22 diagram
        This image shows which components were identified as strategic priorities for 2021-22.

        Objective: Grow data assets
        Component identified as strategic priority: Data acquisition - We will increase our ability to acquire big private sector data to complement surveys and reduce provider burden.

        Objective: Secure data
        Component identified as strategic priority: Data protections - We will uplift our systems and processes to keep data safe.

        Objective: Maintain trust
        Component identified as strategic priority: Ethics, accountability and usage - We will maximise the value of the data we hold while ensuring safe and ethical use.

        Objective: Build capability
        Component identified as strategic priority: Data capability - We will embrace and build new capabilities in the ABS (and beyond) to acquire, store, analyse and communicate data.

        Objective: Harness data
        Components identified as strategic priority: Statistical data (Including big data) - We will extract greater insights from the data we hold, including combining datasets together. Data tools and technology - We will employ tools and technologies to more effectively use data, e.g. Cloud technology.

        Timeline for the Data Strategy

        The first year of the ABS Data Strategy over 2021–22 will set our foundations and progress across priority areas. The Data Strategy will be reviewed and adjusted each year as we move towards our vision.

          Timeline for the Data Strategy timeline
          This image displays the timeline for the Data Strategy.

          Late 2020 to mid 2021 was the 'Design strategy' phase:
          - Establish Data Strategy Team
          - Design Data Strategy Framework
          - Consult across organisation on framework, priorities and 2021-22 initiatives.
          - Develop Data Strategy
          - Establish governance of strategy

          2021 to 2022 is the 'Set our foundations' phase:
          - Progress 2021-22 priorities across:
          - Data protections
          - Data acquisition
          - Data tolls and technologies
          - Data capability
          - Statistical data
          - Ethics, accountability and usage
          - Monitor and report on 2021-22 initiatives, including benefits.
          - In early 2022, pivot and reset priorities for 2022-23.

          2022-23 to 2025 is the 'Move towards our Vision' phase:
          Across 2022-23 to 2025 we will ensure we are moving towards our vision.
          Each year we will:
          - Assess and review strategy progress
          - Adjust and reset priorities at 12-month intervals
          Into 2022-23: continue current initiatives that need more work, plus invest more to harness data and inform decisions.

          ABS Enterprise Planning Framework

          The ABS Data Strategy is an enabling strategy in the broader ABS Enterprise Planning Framework.