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ABS AT A GLANCE
The ABS also has an important coordination function with respect to the statistical activities of other official bodies, both in Australia and overseas.
In April 2016 the ABS opened the National Data Acquisition Centre and continued a partnership with cutting-edge research institution Deakin University in Geelong. ABS’s purpose-built office will be the central data collection point for all ABS business and household surveys.
For over 100 years, the ABS has contributed to the wellbeing of Australians and to Australia’s democracy by providing high quality statistical information to governments, researchers and the community.
The ABS operates in a dynamic environment. New opportunities for accessing and interrogating a vast amount of administrative, transactional and other data are becoming available, increasing the potential to provide new insights into matters of importance to Australians. The statistical landscape is becoming more complex, expectations of decision makers are growing, and the ABS is being challenged to deliver the best possible statistical program in more efficient and innovative ways.
In response to these opportunities and challenges, and informed by the Government’s Statement of Expectations, recommendations from the 2013 Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Capability Review of the ABS, and engagement with key stakeholders, the ABS is undergoing major transformation (2015–16 to 2019–20). The Government’s announcement in the 2015–16 Budget of a major investment in the ABS to modernise its systems and processes is a critical enabler for the wide-reaching transformation agenda being pursued by the ABS. This transformation encompasses how the ABS operates as an organisation, both internally and as part of the wider information community; its statistical infrastructure; its people and culture; and the statistical solutions it delivers.
Statistics, well understood and wisely used, have the power to improve outcomes for Australia. The transformation is key to achieving the ABS vision of unleashing the power of statistics for a better Australia.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 set out the primary functions, duties and powers of the ABS.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 establishes the ABS as an independent statutory authority, with Section 6(1) describing the six functions of the ABS as being to:
The Census and Statistics Act 1905:
There were no amendments made to the Census and Statistics Act 1905 or the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 during 2015–16.
The ABS is also subject to by the Public Service Act 1999, the principal Act governing the establishment and operation of, and employment in, the Australian Public Service; and is subject to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Privacy Act 1988 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
The ABS is led by the Australian Statistician – a statutory office established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975.
The ABS produces a range of economic and population statistics. The production of these statistics involves extensive data collection through censuses and surveys as well as from administrative and other transactional data sources. We undertake extensive analysis and interpretation of the data to ensure the statistics meet user requirements. The ABS also provides data in a variety of formats. The ABS's statistical collection, production and dissemination programs are supported by services which deliver assistance and advice on statistical collection and compilation methods, data, and metadata arrangements, information technology, data acquisition and collection, client management, dissemination, human resources and other corporate services.
The full version of the Annual Report available under the 'downloads' tab shows the ABS organisation chart as at 30 June 2016. For the current organisation chart please refer to the ABS website: abs.gov.au
The Chairperson of the Council is Mr Geoff Allen AM, Director of ACIL Allen Consulting. Members represent a broad cross-section of perspectives, covering: federal, state and territory governments; business; academic; and community interests; and are drawn from across Australia. This diversity of perspectives is one of ASAC’s key advantages in informing ABS’s strategic management and transformation. ASAC also provides valuable input into the directions and priorities of the ABS work program.
As set out in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975, the role of the Council is to advise the Minister and the Statistician in relation to:
(a) the improvement, extension and coordination of statistical services provided for public purposes in Australia
Blue sky workshop: Over the Horizon: digital disruption, megatrends and the future of official statistics
In addition to the scheduled ASAC meetings in 2016 a workshop was held on 20 June 2016. Members participated in a blue sky workshop titled ‘Over the Horizon: digital disruption, megatrends and the future of official statistics’. The workshop included additional guests from government, academia and the private sector. It discussed issues that may impact the future of information and how these may affect the production and use of data 20 years into the future, and beyond.
The themes and discussion confirmed the strength of momentum and uncertainty arising from digital disruption. It was very useful to hear the views of others and how these will inform ASAC deliberations and ABS future directions.
Further information on ASAC including its annual report can be found at www.asac.gov.au.
OUTCOME AND PROGRAM STRUCTURE
In the Portfolio Budget Statements 2015–16, the ABS has one outcome:
Within the context of the Portfolio Budget Statements, Program 1.1 (Australian Bureau of Statistics), the ABS produces and disseminates statistics to meet the above outcome.
Economic statistics are produced predominantly from data collected through the ABS business survey program as well as administrative data sources. They include an extensive range of statistical outputs relating to the structure and performance of the Australian economy.
Population and social statistics are produced from data collected through the ABS household survey program as well as administrative data. They include statistical information relating to the Australian population, including census and demographic statistics, as well as information relating to the social and economic wellbeing of the population.
Program 1.1 – Australian Bureau of Statistics – provides an objective source of information used by governments and the community to inform their decisions. The provision of statistics involves extensive data collection through censuses, surveys and from administrative data sources.
Program 1.1 deliverables
In 2015–16 the ABS:
The ABS statistical programs are supported by service and infrastructure areas that deliver assistance and advice on statistical methods, data and metadata management, information technology, client management, dissemination, human resources and other corporate services.
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