1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2013-14  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/11/2014   
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ABS 2017


The Information Infrastructure Branch is responsible for designing and developing the next generation of statistical information infrastructure which, once implemented across ABS collections, will allow the ABS to transform the way its business is undertaken. The program will deliver a coherent and integrated environment for the life-cycle management of ABS data and metadata.

The objective of the program is to lead the design, development and implementation of:

  • information management governance, infrastructure and standards
  • metadata-driven processes that encompass life-cycle management of data and metadata assets.

The branch also leads the ABS’s contribution to developing international standards which will facilitate sharing of statistical infrastructure and business processes between National Statistical Offices.

Key achievements in 2013–14

In 2013–14 the program progressed towards developing foundational information infrastructure for an improved approach to managing the ABS’s information assets.
The program:
    – released an early version of the metadata registry and repository (MRR), which will, in the future, allow statistical metadata to be stored, registered, catalogued, discovered and accessed
    – released an Enterprise Wide version of the ABS Business Architecture which will underpin any business transformation in the future
    – demonstrated the feasibility of automatically generating e-forms and complex relational databases using structured metadata sourced from the MRR.

The program contributed to international standards which will align the statistical infrastructure of National Statistical Offices. These contributions included:
    – the development and refinement of international metadata models, including the Data Documentation Initiative v4 and Generic Statistical Information Model v1.1 (GSIM). These internationally agreed models of common terminology and definitions will be used by the ABS to describe statistical metadata and information flows
    – the development of a General Statistical Business Process Model v5.0, which underpins the ABS Enterprise Architecture
    – Collaborating with the Statistical Network (a network of National Statistical Offices) on a common information architecture. The Network continued to collaborate on collection, administrative data, dissemination, and enterprise architecture.
The program continued to develop strategies for an enterprise-wide data management environment to provide life-cycle management of statistical data.


The Program Management Office (PMO) is responsible for providing centralised and coordinated support to the ABS 2017 Group to ensure successful delivery of business process and information management transformation objectives. It also has responsibility for the development of the business case for the ABS business transformation.

The PMO promotes and facilitates excellence in the areas of project management and business process analysis and re-engineering as well as providing program support in resource management and change management. These four functions service the various ABS divisions and specifically the ABS 2017 change program with the critical skills and support required to achieve their outcomes by ensuring:
alignment between strategies, programs and projects
future designs for business, information management, technology and applications are aligned to ABS Enterprise Architecture
governance to ensure good change management
visibility of program management information, including tracking and realising business benefits
development of standardised methodologies, frameworks, processes and tools
robust business analysis and process re-design
efficient use of allocated resources.

Key achievements in 2013–14

An endorsed change management strategy was developed, including people transition principles, communications plan, stakeholder engagement strategy and approach to managing cultural changes.
A Business Activity Model and Capability Reference Model (key artefacts in the ABS Enterprise Architecture framework) were developed. These will underpin ABS reengineering, methodological and technological developments.
Communication and stakeholder engagement activities were launched.
The ABS Project Management Framework (PMF) and associated products were reviewed and re-developed to incorporate contemporary project management thinking and align it to the overall project approval process.
An endorsed project assessment and life-cycle management framework was developed.
A Diploma of Leadership Capability Course for staff was sponsored.
Planning for the ABS transformation of its business processes, systems and supporting ICT systems and platforms was progressed. Progress was also made in external reviews to determine the preparedness of the ABS to undertake business transformation.


The Customer Services Branch (CSB) supports the ABS corporate mission to assist and encourage informed decision making by providing high quality communication and dissemination services to customers.

The Branch’s key objectives are to use leading edge communication and dissemination technology, which will produce best practice communication of statistics.

CSB provides information solutions which cater for a wide range of customers and their evolving information requirements. These include self-service statistics and other information on the ABS website and social media. CSB operates the free national information and referral service, user-pays information consultancies, and provides support for the complex needs of researchers through streamlined access to, and use of, microdata.

Key achievements in 2013–14
  • Strong ongoing business delivery was achieved with products and services provided to a wide range of ABS clients:
    – 540 successful statistical releases through online channels
    – 48619 calls and 8470 emails answered for the 2013–2014 financial year
    – 27 microdata releases with 6 basic CURFs, 6 expanded CURFs, 13 TableBuilder datasets and 2 DataAnalyser Beta evaluation releases
    – 26 datasets available in TableBuilder including, health, physical activity, education, patient experience, community engagement with nature conservation, disability and aged care
    – tailored consultancies and subscription service.
  • A leading role was taken in an international collaborative project to develop and utilise a multi-dimensional publishing tool – .Stat.
  • ABS.Stat continues to make an increasing number of rich, multi-dimensional data sets available to customers, including data from the 2011 Census; all these data are also available through machine-to-machine web services.
  • The ABS’s online presence and content continued to expand to allow customers to engage with statistical information and create information tailored to their own needs.
  • A program of user-centric design and analysis of website analytics was introduced to enhance understanding of the information needs and behaviours of ABS customers.
  • A three-year agreement with Universities Australia for 2014–2016 was negotiated, ensuring university students and researchers have access to ABS microdata, including TableBuilder.
  • Collaboration with the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) delivered ABS data machine-to-machine to the AURIN portal.
  • Tangible outcomes were achieved with the Statistical Network Innovation in Dissemination international collaboration community, including .Stat components, shared dissemination architectures/strategies, website taxonomies, search engine optimisation and data visualisation.


The Data Acquisition and Collection program provides a comprehensive statistical data collection and dissemination service for the ABS that also encompasses administrative data acquisition. The Data Acquisition and Collection Branch (DACB) is leading the Acquire@ABS program to transform collection operations through introduction of an online reporting capability that will include the first digital Census of Population and Housing in 2016. In doing so, it supports the ABS corporate mission and objectives by providing a high quality, timely and cost effective service while maintaining the trust and cooperation of providers through a range of measures, including:
  • efficient and effective data collection operations
  • developing and maintaining a skilled and committed home and office-based
    interviewer workforce
  • upholding the confidentiality of information provided to the ABS
  • continually improving the processes and instruments for ABS interaction with providers.

Key achievements in 2013–14
  • Collection operations were delivered on time and to quality standards.
  • Ten years of operation of the Data Collection Unit (DCU) were celebrated.
  • The 500th Monthly Population Survey (MPS) was conducted in December 2013.
  • Transformation of collection processes and facilities continued. This included implementing an online reporting capability for the monthly household surveys and further expanding the online reporting capability for business collections.
  • Online forms now comprise 80% of forms offered to ABS Business Survey respondents. There has been a very positive response from businesses with typical take up rate of 90% across the range of ABS business surveys.
  • Five-yearly household surveys sample frame revision was introduced along with a new sampling system.
  • Preparations were made for the next digital Census in 2016, and for provisions of an online reporting capability. The Branch has worked effectively with the Census program to decide and provide an e-form platform for the 2014 Major Test, with a view towards 2016, which includes support for handheld devices.
  • Work was undertaken to maintain provider response to surveys. An active provider engagement strategy was developed to ensure a continued high level of public trust.
  • Acquire@ABS has provided a basic online reporting capability for most business collections and the monthly population survey. Significant further work is required to transform the majority of our collections from paper and face to face to digital by default and achieve the benefits.
  • The Branch Head chaired the Statistical Data Collection Platform working group for the International Statistical Network. This provided a valuable information sharing opportunity for member countries on issues such as metadata-driven questionnaire design tools and provider engagement strategies.


The Census program undertakes the ABS’s largest and most important statistical collection—the Census of Population and Housing. Its objective is to accurately and efficiently measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census night, and the dwellings in which they live. This provides a reliable basis for the estimation of the population of each state, territory and local government area, primarily for electoral purposes and the distribution of government funds.

The Census also provides the characteristics of Australian population and housing within small geographic areas, and for small population groups. Census data is used to support the planning, administration, policy development and evaluation activities of government, businesses, researchers and others.

Censuses are conducted in Australia every five years and the last Census was held on Tuesday, 9 August 2011. Preparations are being made for the next Census to be held in August 2016.

Key achievements in 2013–14
  • The program continued to focus on delivering improved quality, coverage and efficiency for the 2016 Census.
  • An extensive public consultation program led to recommendations for topics for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing for consideration by the Australian Government in late 2014.
  • Releases of 1% and 5% Census Sample files were made to enable in-depth research
    (the last major releases of 2011 Census data) and the first ACLD.
  • Run That Town, the mobile application that allows users to make planning decisions for their town using Census data, won the Australian Public Service ICT eGovernment Award for Government 2.0 and continues to have more downloads every month.
  • Census provided assistance to two missions to Myanmar to assist with their upcoming Census, focusing on training procedures and materials, and participated as a member of the International Technical Advisory Board which provided strategies and advice to Myanmar on the implementation of their 2014 Census of Population and Housing.