1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/03/2004   
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The Data Access and Confidentiality Methodology Unit (DACMU) has been set up in Statistical Services Branch. Its aim is to provide a focus for ABS work on confidentiality and has primary responsibility for methodological advice and development.
Data access and confidentiality, particularly for unit record data, has been a major issue for ABS over the last 18 months, culminating in the development of the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and changes to the administrative arrangements for allowing individuals access to unit record data. The October 2002 Management Meeting recognised that other aspects of confidentiality needed development and one of the groups in the ABS Leadership Program recommended the creation of a focus for ABS work on confidentiality. DACMU is the result of these deliberations.

DACMU will cover the areas of:

  • access to microdata (e.g. ways of safely accessing unit record data through RADL);
  • confidentiality for microdata (e.g. developing more automated methods of confidentialising data);
  • confidentiality for tables (e.g. techniques for consequential suppression of cells); and
  • confidentiality for data cubes.

There are many other groups in ABS which are active in the policy, development and operational aspects of data access and confidentiality and, in the main, these groups will continue their activities. A Data Access and Confidentiality Strategy Board (DACSB), consisting of senior managers, is being set up to guide policy development, identify emerging strategic issues and advise on the work program for DACMU. Division Heads Meetings would decide on polic

DACMU's roles are to:
  • stay informed on developments in the area, including international developments;
  • develop and assess methodology for confidentiality and data access;
  • specify computing tools and procedures to implement the methodology;
  • promote and advise on the application of the methodology;
  • develop and provide training;
  • coordinate and contribute to the development and review of policy;
  • assess proposals for micro data release; and
  • provide secretariat services to DACSB and MDRP.

The short to medium term priorities are:

  • set up the DACSB;
  • make Confidentialised Unit Record File development and assessment process quicker and earlier (by greater automation and improved processes);
  • continue to assess proposals for release of microdata on CD-ROM, via RADL and from on site data labs;
  • develop methodology and policy on confidentiality for datacubes;
  • use existing tools and methods to reduce highly inefficient confidentialising of tables;
  • market DACMU and new policy on access to microdata;
  • build up expertise in data access and confidentiality issues; and
  • confidentiality for geocoded data.

As part of its role in methodology and policy, DACMU will maintain an issues register, respond to adhoc queries and keep a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Any queries or issues should be directod to Bill Gross (Director) and Kirsty Leslie in Central Office and Phil Bell in South Australia.

For more information, please contact Bill Gross on (02) 6252 7306.

E-mail: bill.gross@abs.gov.au