1005.0 - ABS Corporate Plan, 2020-21  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2020   
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To inform Australia’s important decisions by delivering relevant, trusted and objective data, statistics and insights.


The ABS is Australia’s national statistical agency. It provides trusted official statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters of importance to Australia.

The ABS has important leadership roles in maximising the use of public data for statistical purposes and improving the Australian Government’s statistical capability. The ABS advises official bodies on producing and using data and statistics, formulates standards, and works with states and territories and internationally.


The primary functions, duties and powers of the ABS are set out in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 establishes the ABS as an independent statutory authority and legislates its main function as the central statistical authority for the Australian Government and provider of services for state and territory governments.
  • The Census and Statistics Act 1905 empowers the Australian Statistician to collect statistical information on a broad range of demographic, economic, environmental and social topics and contains strong provisions to maintain the confidentiality of information collected under the Act.


The ABS upholds the Australian Public Service Values. Its employees are:

  • Impartial - they are apolitical and provide the Australian Government with frank and timely advice based on the best available evidence
  • Committed to service - they are professional, objective, innovative and efficient. They work collaboratively to achieve the best results for the Australian community and Government
  • Accountable - they are accountable to the Australian community under the law and within the framework of ministerial responsibility
  • Respectful - they respect all people, including their rights and heritage
  • Ethical - they are honest and trustworthy, and act with integrity in all they do.


The ABS has an inclusive culture which is collaborative, accountable, agile, innovative, and customer focused. The ABS ensures it understands the needs of users and providers of its data, and seeks to bring out the best in its people to enable them to deliver outstanding customer service.

The ABS is committed to inclusion and diversity through engagement, support, participation, development and wellbeing, and representation in leadership. This commitment enables the ABS to make the best use of its staff’s special skills and qualities so they are able to perform at their best.


The ABS cooperates with a wide range of government and private entities to provide access to big data and develop enduring data assets to support policy and researchers.

Government and private entities are increasingly collecting and storing data. These new data sources present a significant opportunity for the ABS to develop new statistics and insights, while reducing the burden placed on businesses and households. The ABS collaborates with organisations to inform the production of official statistics, develop enduring data assets that support researchers, and develop joined-up solutions with partners.

The ABS cooperates with the Australian Taxation Office; The Treasury; state and territory registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages; the Departments of Home Affairs; Health; Education, Skills and Employment; and Social Services; the Australian Electoral Commission; Australia Post; the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. The ABS manages and oversees these collaborations through memorandums of understanding, deeds of agreement, statements of intent, and commercial contracts.


The ABS is committed to creating a collaborative, accountable, agile, innovative, and customer-focused organisation. The ABS has developed enabling strategies to strengthen its capabilities, which cover its workforce, finance, data, customer experience, and information and communications technology.

The ABS has a capable, resilient, agile and highly engaged workforce. The objectives of the ABS Workforce Strategy are to: Increase the capacity and capability of the ABS; identify, monitor and predict where specialist and general skills and knowledge are required; support innovative ways of working to achieve high performance and efficiency; and improve ABS’ position as an ‘employer of choice’. The ABS of the future requires strong leadership at all levels, a diverse workforce with capabilities in data analytics, cyber-security and artificial intelligence, and an inclusive workplace culture. In 2020-21 and beyond, the ABS will build people capability by:

  • further embedding high performance behaviours in ABS leaders through improved management and performance frameworks, and learning and coaching opportunities;
  • investing in managers to support work in increasingly flexible working environments;
  • further embedding a safety culture and practices that underpin physical and mental wellbeing;
  • recruiting to address critical and in-demand skillsets including data scientists, data analysts, methodology specialists, cyber-security and augmented intelligence;
  • leveraging the new APS-wide ‘Data Professional Stream’; and
  • redeploying skilled staff to high priority areas, including 2021 Census, through operational workforce planning and internal mobility programs.

The ABS is enhancing its capabilities to leverage big data sources, use artificial intelligence and computationally intensive methodologies. The ABS will expand its already world-class methods to represent, store, manipulate, integrate, and analyse large datasets. The ABS continues to collaborate with international statistical organisations to ensure its methods for producing high-quality and timely statistics are world best practice.

Through its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy, the ABS is modernising its ICT in order to support the production of high-quality statistics, provide a platform for innovation, and deliver future-focused technical capabilities. The production of new information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the delivery of components of this modernisation.

The ABS has enabled activity-based working across all its offices to ensure teams can work virtually and flexibly. Learning from its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABS is working to embed new and innovative flexible working practices in a way that provides longer term benefits to individuals, teams and the organisation.

The ABS will maintain its expertise in domestic and international standards, classifications and frameworks to ensure it continues to produce consistent, reliable and high-quality statistics.

The ABS will continue to build and refine the Australian Business Register and Address Register. Both of these registers are critical foundational tools that allow the creation of common frames for most survey work, including the 2021 Census.

Risk Management

The ABS approach to risk management emphasises strong ownership of risk by individual business units and an investment in risk management proportionate to each unit's risk profile.

Governance arrangements support good communication of risks among business units and enable collective responses to common and critical risks. These arrangements also support the effective escalation of high risks while empowering line managers to deal with lower-level risks.

The ABS enterprise risk management framework continues to evolve to better capture risk and allocate responsibility for its management. Enterprise risk stewards operate in support of Deputy-level risk owners by scanning the risk environment, collaborating with senior managers across the organisation, and informing risk assessments with accurate and timely business intelligence.

ABS Enterprise Risks

A. The ABS repeatedly or significantly fails to deliver high-quality statistical products and services.

B. The ABS repeatedly or significantly fails to meet customer needs.

C. The ABS is unable to access the critical non-survey data it needs.

D. The ABS is unable to protect the data it holds.

E. The ABS experiences a reduction in social license and/or loses the confidence of Government, the Parliament and other key authorising entities.

F. The workforce (quantity, capability and/or capacity) is insufficient to deliver quality ABS products and services.