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1. Environmental and organisational context
1.3 Infrastructure modernisation
2019-20 is the final year of the ABS’ five-year program to modernise its information technology infrastructure and statistical business processes. This transformation program has delivered against the original program objectives to:
The objective of delivering financial efficiencies is yet to be fully realised. This reflects delays in the delivery of statistical processing capabilities and the need to adopt a cautious approach in transitioning the current statistical programs to the new infrastructure. This cautious approach has been designed to protect the quality and continuity of ABS statistics during the transition.
The ABS has started using cloud computing as part of its information technology infrastructure. This includes the use of cloud service providers from the Australian Signals Directorate Certified Cloud Services List. An example is our new data integration lab that allows access to large scale computing for researchers using our large integrated datasets. These services are configured in line with advice from the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).
The ABS has a large security uplift program running in 2019-20 to better safeguard citizen data in line with community expectations. The ABS will be focussing on raising maturity against ACSC’s Essential 8 Maturity Model.
1.4 Workforce strategy
The ABS operates in an environment where there is increasing external demand for staff with high quality data and statistical capabilities. Over coming years it is expected the growth in demand for data scientists will outpace overall employment growth, and Australian businesses will make significantly increased investment in data analytics capabilities.
Within this context, the ABS Workforce Strategy 2019-23 provides a four year outlook to ensure that the ABS continues to attract, develop and retain high quality staff and equip them with required skills and knowledge. The strategy includes four streams to drive high organisational performance:
As Australia’s National Statistical Office we are well placed to assist data capability development in the Australian Public Service (APS). The ABS is working with public sector partners to determine how we can assist government employees to develop data analytical skills. This includes investigating:
1.5 Financial context for 2019-20
The level of ABS resources is a combination of Government appropriation and user funding for data products and services.
In 2019-20, the ABS will receive an annual appropriation of $261.7 million and user funding of $49.5 million. This appropriation is marginally higher than the $258.6 million appropriated in 2018-19 due to additional funding to conduct a Time Use Survey, produce the Labour Accounts publication, and various other minor cyclical funding adjustments.
This base funding excludes funding for the Census of Population and Housing, which is appropriated separately, the Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP), capital and low value asset replacement funding. In 2019-20 Census funding will increase by $44 million to $74.8 million as the program ramps up.
The ABS appropriation largely funds the demographic and economic statistical programs; data acquisition and enabling services such as information technology. Data acquisition (including surveys, data cleaning) accounts for around a quarter of the ABS appropriated funding.
By contrast, the social statistics program is largely reliant on user funding. Seventy-five per cent of the $49.5 million in user funding in 2019-20 supports the social statistics program, with a small proportion supporting the industry, environment and agricultural statistical programs and data integration.
Appropriated funding for a number of activities ceases in June 2020, including funding for the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA), labour accounts and research into measuring the non-market service sector.
1.6 Medium term funding outlook
Over the past decade the need for prioritisation has become sharper as the ABS’ ongoing appropriation has reduced. Funding in 2019-20 in real terms is 28 per cent lower than a decade ago. This takes into account the additional funding of $31.2 million (excluding capital) over five years provided to the ABS in the 2018-19 Budget and 2018-19 MYEFO (refer Chart 1).
The ABS has achieved efficiencies by reducing:
These efficiencies are offset by rising costs of:
Future efficiencies will be dependent on changes in the way the ABS collects information, such as further use of administrative data, more e-form collection, and the efficiency with which we compile and analyse this information, such as more automation of coding and editing.
CHART 1: Real ABS operating funding1, 2000-01 to 2022-23
2. Base funding after WCI, Efficiency Dividend, efficiencies following SBTP and Whole-of-Government Savings. Includes ongoing NPP funding and offsets for property savings.
3. Base funding excludes the reclassification of Departmental Capital Budget funding for low value asset purchases.
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1006.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics - Forward Work Program, 2019-20
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/10/2019