1005.0 - ABS Corporate Plan, 2016-17  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/08/2016   
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The ABS is undergoing significant transformation. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our infrastructure, capacity and capability. A period of rapid change increases our exposure to risk. However, a ‘no change’ approach also involves risk exposure.

As part of this transformation, the ABS seeks to integrate effective risk management into the way it does business, so we can achieve our objectives, manage change effectively, realise opportunities and make sound decisions on the use of public resources.

The ABS has a strong focus on managing statistical risk (for example, lack of coherence between published statistics, or breaks in time series). Robust processes around statistical risk ensure that these risks are understood and managed in a cost effective way. Over the last year, the ABS has given increased priority to ensuring statistical risk is managed well. A new more rigorous and pragmatic framework has been applied to Labour Force, National Accounts, Consumer Price Index and Estimated Resident Population. Key statistics which contribute to these series are being progressively brought onto the new framework throughout 2016-17.

This new statistical risk framework is designed to ensure statistical risk management is streamlined, pragmatic and actually makes a difference, without unnecessarily stifling innovation. The new framework addresses issues which came to public attention in late 2014 when unexpected volatility was observed in seasonally adjusted labour force estimates for July to September 2014.

As the accountable authority for the ABS, the Australian Statistician has a duty to establish and maintain systems relating to risk and control under Section 16 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act). The Statistician has set out responsibilities related to managing risk and internal accountability through an Accountability Authority Instrument (AAI) issued under section 20A of the PGPA Act.

The ABS risk management framework aligns with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and is subject to continual improvement. The framework ensures there is a mechanism for monitoring and identifying shifts in risk exposure and the emergence of new risks. It also articulates tolerances for new risks and actions required when risks reach certain levels.

In addition to general risk management, the AAI and the framework identify mechanisms for specialist risk management which address persistent risks. These include: fraud (managed consistently with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework); work health and safety; information and communication technology security; and disclosure risk (relating to privacy and confidentiality which is part of ABS core business).


Our purpose is to provide trusted official statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters of importance to Australia. When we succeed in our purpose we inform governments, businesses and the community to enable better discussions, research and decision making which enhances the wellbeing of all Australians.

The ABS cannot measure our influence on national wellbeing. The ABS Performance criteria focus on whether we are providing the right statistics, whether we are responsive in meeting the needs of stakeholders and whether the ABS is able to do this sustainably into the future. These measures will evolve over time, reflecting ongoing changes in our operating environment. We report against these measures in the Annual Performance Statement in our Australian Bureau of Statistics Annual Report (cat. no. 1001.0)

Performance criterion 1

ABS statistical solutions will continue to inform decision makers, researchers and discussion by governments, business and the community. The ABS produces the statistics required by users and the statistics will be of sufficient quality to be fit-for-purpose for users. The ABS will engage with partners through appropriate consultation forums to understand user requirements that inform strategic directions and the ABS work program. The ABS will better manage risks to key statistics to maintain appropriate quality.

2016-17 targets a2017-18 and forward estimates targets b

ABS continues to produce key economic and population statistics with appropriate coverage, frequency and timeliness as assessed by the International Monetary Fund against the Special Data Dissemination Standard; except where the ABS has made an explicit decision not to do so, following consultation with stakeholders, based on Australian needs and circumstances.cSame as 2016-17

At least 96% of the media articles citing ABS statistics do so without concerns about quality.

The following consultation forum meetings will be held: at least two of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council; at least four of the State Government Statistical Priority Forum; two of the Australian Government Statistical Forum; at least two Economic Statistics Advisory Group meetings; and two Population and Social Statistics Advisory Group meetings.Same as 2016-17

Risk Management Plans are developed and approved for key economic and industry statistics.

a. Targets are for the end of the financial year unless specified otherwise.
b. Targets are for the end of the financial year unless specified otherwise.
c. The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) is produced and managed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF monitors and reports on how well countries comply with SDDS requirements for the range of statistics produced and the coverage, frequency, and timeliness of the statistics that are produced. The statistics required by the SDDS include national accounts, labour force, unemployment, consumer price inflation and estimates of resident population. The information for Australia has not been updated since 2014; however no changes have been made which would negatively impact on compliance with the standard. The latest information on how well Australia complies with the SDDS is available on the IMF website: http://dsbb.imf.org/Pages/SDDS/SOOCtyCtgList.aspx?ctycode=AUS.

Performance criterion 2

The ABS will partner and collaborate with stakeholders to develop new statistical solutions that inform decisions on important matters. ABS stakeholders will provide feedback on the effectiveness of these collaborations, their satisfaction with the ABS responsiveness in meeting their needs, and their confidence in ABS statistics.

2016-17 targets2017-18 and forward estimates targets

Partners report increased levels of satisfaction with ABS responsiveness in meeting their needs in the biennial April 2016 Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment compared to when the APSC Capability Review of the ABS was undertaken.Partners’ levels of satisfaction with ABS responsiveness in meeting their needs are maintained in the biennial (April) 2018 Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment.

Case studies are produced demonstrating how the ABS collaborates with partners to develop statistical solutions that have or will significantly inform important decision making by government.

A baseline is established on the use of ABS data integration products.

Performance criterion 3

The ABS will reduce the burden placed on providers. Provider take-up of electronic reporting will be enhanced through a Census electronic form usable on many mobile devices.

2016-17 targets2017-18 and forward estimates targets

The ABS delivers annualised reductions in red tape of at least $200,000. Estimated total provider burden on businesses remains steady at approximately 400,000 hours.

Business take-up of electronic forms exceeds 90%. More than 65% of the population complete their Census using an electronic form.

Performance criterion 4

The ABS will collaborate with partners to improve statistical infrastructure, capabilities, people and culture. The ABS Statistical Business Transformation Program is on track to develop innovative new infrastructure and capabilities. The ABS will progress the People and Culture Action Plan including an initiative to develop the future-ready professional, analytical and conceptual skills of selected staff.

2016-17 targets2017-18 and the forward estimates targets

The new enterprise data management environment will be implemented allowing the ABS to manage its data assets more cost-effectively.ABS Statistical Business Transformation Program is on track and has met the agreed mid-term deliverables as assessed by a Gateway Review of the program to be undertaken by Australian Government by December 2017.

Case studies are produced demonstrating the benefits of new and enhanced infrastructure and capabilities.

All actions from the ABS People and Culture Action Plan for 2016-17 are completed including identifying and starting to address future capability requirements through operational group workforce plans.Completed all actions from the ABS People and Culture Action Plan for 2017-18.

A training course to build future ready professional, analytical and conceptual skills is developed and piloted.