The Statistical Services Program provides specialist services to meet new and ongoing demands in statistics. Much of the work has the goal of ensuring the methods underlying ABS outputs are based on sound, defensible statistical principles and are cost effective.
The program has specific responsibilities for supporting the statistical collection and production processes. It provides advice on, and methods for, the most efficient and effective ways of meeting information needs through all the stages of the survey cycle. This includes advice on quality. The program also undertakes research on statistical and operational research methods to improve the efficiency and reliability of ABS work. The program provides leadership in developing the future methodological infrastructure of the ABS.
The program also aims to minimise the load on data providers through efficient sample designs and techniques to control sample overlap between surveys and, in the case of Australian business surveys, through the review and approval process for the Australian Government Statistical Clearing House, which is managed by the program.
The program’s main internal products include reports and advice on
- methods for making use of, and quality assuring, administrative data for statistical purposes
- sample design, estimation and other survey-related methodological issues
- research into new methods to meet future statistical needs
- issues affecting the quality of ABS’s statistical products.
The program also supports the development and delivery of training on mathematical, statistical and other methodological issues for all ABS staff.
Externally, in conjunction with Analytical Services, the program produces and publishes a series of Methodology Advisory Committee Papers
(ABS cat. nos. 1352.0.55.001-13184.108.40.206), which present the results of current research or analysis, often of an experimental nature, to facilitate expert discussion and comment. In addition, guidelines on current best practices of statistical methodology are also produced (ABS cat. 1500 series).
The Statistical Clearing House produces an annual report of all surveys directed to 50 or more businesses conducted by Commonwealth agencies during each fiscal year. It also promulgates and promotes survey best practices in agencies conducting business surveys.
The main medium-term developments are to:
- research new methods and review suitable tools for future ABS statistical needs - due June 2014
- improve survey data collection efficiency by using para-data for more dynamic and adaptive survey data operations - due June 2014
- develop editing methods and assess tools to support increased utilisation of administrative datasets in statistical production - due June 2014
- develop methods for dealing with missing data for more complex statistical products (derived from linked data, administrative data) - due June 2014
- develop methodologies for supporting multi-modal data collection for conduct and processing of the Census of Population and Housing and household surveys - due June 2014
- develop the sampling framework and procedures to support list-based sampling, harness administrative data and utilise address information in delivering more efficient designs and more efficient identification of subpopulations of interest for household surveys - due December 2014
- assist the implementation of new methods and tools that are part of the methodological architecture to support future ABS statistical collections and products - due June 2017.
Paul Schubert, Assistant Statistician, Statistical Services Branch