1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2001   
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In the early days of the Statistical Clearing House (SCH), the Harmonisation Project was established to eliminate the duplication of information requests made to ABS survey managers by the SCH and other ABS internal review areas. Harmonisation of the SCH with the Collection Management System (CMS) was the main priority of this project, ensuring the information provided on the Commonwealth Business Surveys Register is the same as that provided on the CMS web-site. Fundamentally however, the SCH and CMS have different objectives.

The SCH reviews surveys involving 50 or more businesses run by, or on behalf of any Commonwealth government agency. Surveys are assessed on the basis of answers supplied to the 57 review questions (referred to as the SCH template) and a set of review criteria. The review questions cover all aspects of the statistical cycle; to ensure

  • there is no adequate alternative source of information available and no reasonable, alternative means of obtaining the required information with less respondent burden;
  • the survey methodology is appropriate to meet the objectives of the survey;
  • a group of businesses or business associations have been consulted about the nature and objectives of the survey and data availability, and there is an assessment of respondent load; and
  • there are adequate systems (both computer and people-based) to ensure the survey is conducted and processed in a manner that will provide output of appropriate quality.

The CMS on the other hand enables ABS Subject Matter Areas (SMAs) to document their surveys, within a corporate framework. This leads to varying levels of detail and the issues addressed in the CMS being determined by the SMA.
The SCH reviews ABS surveys by loading CMS information into the SCH template. This information is often inadequate to satisfy the SCH requirements without further explanations or clarifications.

There has been substantial progress with harmonisation in recent times. CMS Release 5 saw the introduction of SCH questions embedded as CMS questions, the inclusion of nine SCH questions which were not previously on the CMS and links from the CMS to the SCH processing system. The inclusion of SCH pop-up boxes in the appropriate CMS fields will ensure that when the CMS is completed, the SMA can refer to the pop-up box, see what the SCH question is and provide information that will be a suitable response to the SCH. This is a step forward, but still requires that the CMS entries are up to date. There is a now a stronger corporate focus on keeping CMS entries up to date with a number of CMS entries flagged as CMS publishable items, to be released to the Web.

The SCH has been trialling the process of undertaking SCH reviews directly from the CMS for some repeat surveys and a new survey and this process is working reasonably well. The SCH maximise the use of CMS provider load and quality measures as part of the post survey information processes. Again for this process to work effectively its relies on the CMS being updated in a timely way by survey managers.

With the dissemination of CMS information, initially via the Statistical Directory in December 2001, the dissemination of information about ABS surveys to the SCH web site will no longer be necessary with links instead being provided to the site of CMS dissemination. This is not possible in the short term as there is only limited overlap. However this will be expanded over time.

For more information, please contact Marietta Urh on (02) 6252 5565.

Email: marietta.urh@abs.gov.au