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In 2021–22, the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a profound impact on Australia’s economy and society. The ABS continues to play a pivotal role in measuring the impacts of the pandemic on society and the economy with a range of more-timely statistical products to inform the Government’s response.
The ABS has a continuing obligation to deliver core statistical products that are critical to government, business, and the Australian community. The ABS looks for ways to reduce the burden placed on providers by only collecting data directly from households and business where this data is not available through other means. The ABS has used non-survey1 datasets to meet some of the increased demand for more detailed and timely statistics, and to deliver more detailed statistics more frequently.
Collecting data from households is becoming more difficult and expensive as the attitudes and lifestyle habits of individuals and families change over time. People are more mobile, and their contact details change more frequently. The ABS is making better use of technology to contact, identify, and engage survey participants remotely to respond to these changes.
The ABS continues to invest in international best-practice methods for the secure storage, processing, and dissemination of statistics.
The ABS is a leader in Australia’s data environment, with the Australian Statistician as the Head of the Data Profession for the APS. In leading the APS Data Profession, the ABS is working to lift the capability of the APS workforce to generate deeper insights to inform decision-making in policy development, management, and service delivery.
The ABS has a capable, resilient, agile, and engaged workforce. The ABS of the future requires experienced leadership, a diverse workforce with deep expertise in key areas, and an inclusive workplace culture.
The ABS has identified a series of shifts to respond to the opportunities and demands of its environment. These shifts will be most noticeable in how the ABS: sources and protects data; engages with its clients; shapes its workforce; modernises its technologies; and strengthens its leadership.
Identified 'shifts' in key areas of data, clients, workforce, technology and leadership
Description of image: This image identifies the 5 priority capabilities where the ABS intends to make important changes (or shifts) to respond to the opportunities and demands of its environment. These capabilities are 1. data, 2. clients, 3. workforce, 4. technology, and 5. leadership.
In 2021–22 and beyond, the ABS will build capability by:
The ABS is enhancing its capabilities to leverage big data sources. The ABS will expand its already world-class methods to store, manipulate, integrate, and analyse large datasets. The ABS continues to collaborate with international statistical organisations to ensure its methods for producing high-quality statistics are world best-practice.
The ABS will continue to invest in data science capabilities to underpin its leadership in data integration, analysis, and handling within the APS. It will increase the use of big and administrative3 data to reduce the need for surveys, and work with third parties to directly source data, in its ongoing attempts to reduce provider burden.
Through its Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Strategy, the ABS is modernising its ICT to support the production of high-quality statistics, provide a platform for innovation, and deliver future-focused technical capabilities. The ABS is incrementally improving its systems to maximise value and reduce the time to deliver new data solutions and services.
Risk oversight and management
The ABS approach to risk management emphasises ownership of risk by individual business units and risk management action proportionate to each unit’s risk profile.
Existing 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 higher-level 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 improve awareness about individual responsibility for risk 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.
The ABS is committed to producing and publishing timely insights as well as high-quality statistical information and will seek to limit risks to core statistical releases and services. The ABS does not accept risk to its people and will make every effort to comply with its legislative and legal obligations.
The ABS embraces risk to innovate to deliver relevant and timely statistics. Where strategies and objectives result in higher risk, the ABS relies on effective internal management and regular engagement with clients to ensure there is appropriate awareness and understanding of the risk.
The ABS cannot, and should not, seek to eliminate all risk as it delivers its purpose. Change involves risk, and the ABS is continually adapting to deliver relevant information to support important decisions.
A number of strategic uncertainties may affect the ability of the ABS to achieve its objectives, including:
The ABS cooperates with a wide range of Australian, state, and territory government agencies and businesses to provide statistical services and to gain access to critical non-survey datasets. By accessing these datasets, the ABS can reduce the survey burden on households and businesses, improve statistical quality, and generate new statistics and products more rapidly.
The ABS engages with partners to co-design surveys and develop the best products for their purposes – with minimum redundant effort. This results in better outcomes for both the ABS and its partners.
The ABS also receives funding from other government agencies to undertake surveys and integrate and disseminate data on their behalf. The ABS is currently working in partnership with state, territory, and other Australian government agencies in areas such as health, climate, the economy, and education. In partnering with other agencies, the ABS aims to:
The ABS actively partners with a broad range of Australian Government entities, including (but not limited to):
The ABS partners with state and territory government entities to deliver regional insights on jurisdictional priorities. Data provided by state and territory registries of Births, Deaths, and Marriages is critical to the production of population estimates.
The ABS also relies on Indigenous organisations; community groups; private sector organisations; industry groups; and commercial organisations including supermarkets and banks to build community support and access data. The ABS engages with academia and other national statistical organisations abroad.
The ABS manages and oversees these collaborations through memoranda of understanding, deeds of agreement, statements of intent, and commercial contracts.
1 Non-survey datasets are comprised of data that is sourced from methods other than a survey or census, such as big data or administrative data.
2 Big data refers to ‘data that contains greater variety, arriving in increasing volumes and with more velocity. This is also known as the three Vs.’ https://www.oracle.com/au/big-data/what-is-big-data/
3 Administrative data is information collected by government agencies, businesses, or organisations for various purposes, including registrations, transactions, and record keeping, usually during the delivery of a service.
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