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The first results from the 2021 Census will be available in June 2022.
The five-yearly Agricultural Census will be undertaken during the 2021–22 financial year. It will provide benchmark national, state, and regional data on the 2020-21 financial year to support research and decision-making by governments and businesses. The Agricultural Census reaches around 100,000 agricultural businesses and provides output at a more granular level than is available from the much smaller annual agriculture survey.
Objective 2—Generate timely new insights
The ABS engages with key clients and users of its data to meet their needs.
The ABS will continue to release statistical products to meet the critical demands of government and business for health, employment, consumer spending, and other relevant information to aid the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The ABS is also enhancing its data integration assets and infrastructure. The ABS is using new data sources to address emerging information needs, augment existing products, and validate existing methodologies. This will continue ABS efforts to inform important social, environmental, economic, health, and other policy issues.
Data integration projects
The ABS is an Accredited Integrating Authority with responsibility for linking relevant data from a range of sources; providing access to authorised users via highly secure ABS systems; and safeguarding privacy— applying many layers of protection to ensure that information that could identify individuals is not disclosed.
In partnership with other agencies, the ABS supports the analysis of integrated data including through two key integrated longitudinal data assets:
For 2021–22, approved ABS and collaborative projects supported through BLADE and MADIP include:
Over four years, commencing in 2021–22, the Department of Social Services will fund the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in collaboration with the ABS, to undertake a pilot to assess the feasibility of linking crime and justice data with other social datasets. This project aims to develop a comprehensive data and reporting system on family, domestic, and sexual violence that provides a more complete picture and greater insights into the life outcomes of people experiencing family and domestic violence, including victim-survivors and perpetrators.
The ABS will use big data to deliver more timely economic indicators of the Australian economy. This project will deliver:
During 2021–22, the ABS will continue a series of research projects to provide greater insights into productivity in the non-market sector. This will include developing experimental estimates of productivity for schools, universities, and hospitals (including market and non-market components).
Objective 3—Improve access to ABS statistics
ABS data and statistics are valuable national assets. There are many users of ABS data and statistics including government entities, local councils, public and not-for-profit organisations, academics, researchers, students, businesses, public policy institutes, local community groups, and other private sector agencies. The ABS is committed to improving access, while ensuring privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
The ABS will continue to provide access to statistics through a range of avenues, including the ABS website, the DataLab, TableBuilder, and customised data requests.
Users of ABS statistics can access them freely on the ABS website or by configuring their systems to an application programming interface (API). Machine-to-machine access provides a fast avenue for regular users to import data into their systems.
More microdata, available at a cost, will also be released to the virtual DataLab which supports researchers to undertake complex research work more efficiently.
The ABS is committed to the return of information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, delivering data in formats that are both useful and culturally appropriate.
To increase awareness of ABS statistics, the ABS will continue to use social media platforms to engage with the Australian public, and proactively engage media and industry. The ABS will release a range of snapshots and infographics on its social media platforms which provide notice of key upcoming releases and highlight topical statistics.
Objective 4—Strengthen data capability across the APS
The Australian Government recognises the importance of using data to better understand and respond to the needs of Australians. It has committed to ensuring the APS has the right capability, tools, and processes to securely use, share, and understand data for better policy advice, regulation, and services. Following the appointment of the Australian Statistician, Dr David Gruen, as Head of the Data Profession, the ABS has partnered with the Australian Public Service Commission to establish the APS Data Profession. The ABS has welcomed the opportunity to drive collaboration, strengthen data capability, and build a more sophisticated expertise for data professionals. The ABS is working with 25 agencies to progress the initial two-year work program for the Data Profession.
The ABS has developed a Data Strategy that will help the ABS make decisions about funding and priorities, and develop the required culture, tools, knowledge, systems, and processes. The Data Strategy will better position the ABS to explore opportunities and meet the challenges of the coming years by enhancing its security settings, and maximising the value of the data it holds, while continuing to keep data safe. The Chief Data Officer will oversee the delivery of the Data Strategy, improve data governance, and lead the ABS’ data culture.
The ABS will play a leadership role in building data capability across the APS by driving a range of practical initiatives being developed under the Data Profession, including: establishing an APS Data Capability Framework and embedding its use across agencies to ensure a common language and understanding of the data capabilities required by APS employees; building development-focused opportunities for people in data roles, including increasing mobility and knowledge sharing across the service; and creating development pathways to build skills for all APS staff, as well as the specialist and more advanced skills required by data professionals.
The ABS is leading the recruitment of data graduates for placements across the APS to help attract, recruit, and retain the next generation of data professionals. This work will support a service-wide approach to continually lifting the capability of the APS to maximise the value of data in delivering better outcomes for Australians.
Objective 5—Reduce burden on data providers
The Government’s deregulation agenda aims to design and implement regulation in the most efficient and timely way, with the smallest cost to businesses. The ABS has been managing the burden on data providers over the past decade and is committed to reducing this burden further.
The ABS collaborates with clients and providers with the aim of increasing their understanding of the value of their data, and minimising the burden placed on them. Where collecting data is needed, the ABS uses statistical techniques to ensure the load is shared as evenly as possible. In addition, the ABS aims to provide contemporary, tailored, and intuitive services to assist providers to meet their obligations.
The ABS continues to increase the use of non-survey data, including data collected by governments and the private sector, to reduce the need to conduct surveys, and to get the balance right between burden and delivering public value. The ABS is committed to improving engagement with data providers, reducing the time required to complete surveys, and reducing the number of surveys businesses and households need to complete each year.
The ABS is constantly reviewing data collection methods to reduce the effort required by businesses and individuals providing data and enable them to respond more quickly to data requests.
In 2021—22, the ABS will continue a series of trials to investigate options for reducing regulatory burden. These trials will investigate options for:
Objective 6—Maintain a capable and well-governed Commonwealth agency
The ABS strives to be an effective, efficient, and flexible agency that cooperates across Government. The ABS maintains clear internal policies for effective and accountable decision-making to align its work and purpose.
The ABS is committed to continual improvement of management and governance practices, to assure Australians it works with integrity and accountability. The ABS will also focus on supporting its staff to deliver to a high standard against emerging priorities and business as usual functions in a connected and collaborative way.
The ABS relies on internal and external audit, as well as other independent performance and compliance reviews, to provide the assurance that operations are efficient, effective, lawful, consistent with legislative and policy obligations, and aligned to the expectations of government.
The ABS is committed to creating a collaborative, accountable, agile, innovative, and customer-focused agency. 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 assesses its performance against this objective through a number of measures reported to internal governance fora. The ABS does not publish performance measures against this objective, although aspects of performance are available in the ABS Annual Report.
The ABS will enhance its Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO) to build capability and project governance practices. The EPMO will also support business planning and guide effective investment decisions.
The ABS will adopt cloud-based capabilities to blend big data with survey data. The new cloud-based capabilities, along with reengineering of some surveys, will enable a more resilient processing environment.
The ABS will continue to operate responsibly by reporting accurately on its financial position and performance. The ABS will also maintain appropriate systems of risk oversight and management, internal controls, and assurance (including an internal audit program).
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