1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2001   
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Over the last 10 years, Subject Matter Areas (SMAs) and the Sample and Frame Maintenance Procedures (SFMP) team have made significant investments in standardised tools and procedures for business surveys. There is a general belief that this investment has increased the quality of application of SFMP. However, there is a need for a mechanism which provides more consistent and regular measures of how well the SFMP rules are being applied and how well the tools are working.

The SFMP team proposed a quality assurance scheme that was endorsed by the Survey Integration Steering Committee (SISC) and was implemented in the March Quarter 2001 reference period. The quality assurance scheme serves two purposes:

  • to provide senior management and survey management objective data on the application of SFMP; and
  • to assist the SFMP team in future improvements to SFMP.

For the quality assurance scheme to be effective, there are remedial actions undertaken when standards fall below acceptable levels. Such remedial action may include the retraining of staff, the amendment of operational tools such as the questionnaire or the review of rules or procedures.

SMAs are responsible for their own quality assurance. The SFMP quality assurance scheme should be part of the total quality management associated with the processing of each economic survey. Each processing cycle, SMAs select a sample of units for checking. For subannuals, the sample size is 40 units per quarter and for annuals, the sample size is 160 units per annum. Results from the quality assurance are sent to the SFMP team upon completion. These results are aggregated and presented to SISC each quarter.

To provide some form of independent assessment, the SFMP team also conducts small audits on each survey on an annual basis. The audit consists of a subsample of the quality assurance sample already selected by the SMA. The main purposes of the audit are to ensure that the SMA are applying the correct methods of treatment and that there is sufficient documentation to justify decisions made in regard to SFMP.

For more information, please contact Rosslyn Starick on (03) 9615 7689.

Email: rosslyn.starick@abs.gov.au