1015.0 - Information Paper: Transforming Statistics for the Future, Feb 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2016  First Issue
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Collecting business survey data has been, for many years, one of the foundations of producing official statistics. Undertaking business surveys enables the ABS to collect information directly from businesses, which can then be either published in its own right, or used in the compilation of more complex data, such as the National Accounts.

The cost to the ABS of undertaking traditional business survey collection methods has been increasing over time; while there is also a strong desire to reduce the red-tape burden on those businesses selected in ABS surveys. At the same time, the amount of data available through other sources, such as through other business reporting to government, along with other administrative and transactional datasets, provide the opportunity to replace direct survey data collection, while still ensuring the continued quality of our statistics.

The ABS is seeking ways to deliver statistics which are less intrusive and less costly on businesses, while at the same time, increasing our capability to be more responsive and flexible to meet current and emerging information needs. Consolidating and integrating our business survey program is one way we will achieve this.

By consolidating our business survey program, we will:

  • meet more information requirements and provide more timely statistics – where the focus is on delivering tailored statistical solutions with greater agility and responsiveness to the needs of our users. More client engagement, and the production of statistical products that combine survey data with government, administrative and transactional data will result in richer data sets for our users
  • ensure the continued quality of ABS business statistics - through greater coherence across ABS estimates; supported by streamlined data processing and improved statistical capability within the ABS
  • strengthen relationships with our business data providers - by improving digital collection methods to reduce respondent burden; reduce and consolidate the number of business surveys conducted; and reuse data already reported to government
  • reduce survey management and processing costs - through the use of modernised survey infrastructure and improved work program coordination.
The consolidation and integration of the business survey program will be developed and implemented consistent with ABS' risk appetite that is articulated in the ABS Risk Management Framework. While managing any impacts on the quality of our statistics, we support continual improvement. Any changes will be implemented in a carefully considered way. This low risk appetite means we will consult heavily with users before any implementation starts.

Over the next 12 months, the ABS will further develop and refine its approach for conducting business surveys, and more information will be released as development progresses.

There is more work to be done in undertaking one of the biggest changes in the ABS’ history and with the ongoing support of our stakeholders, we are confident we can achieve our vision of unleashing the power of statistics for a better Australia.