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Chapter 3 - National statistical service
The national statistical service provides an accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive and meaningful picture of the economy, society and the environment to support the formulation and monitoring of policies.
For Australia, responsibility for an effective national statistical service lies with the ABS. The ABS' enabling legislation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act (1975), establishes the ABS as Australia's central statistical authority, responsible for providing statistical services to all Australian governments, and the community. The functions described in the legislation provide for ABS to both collect, compile, analyse, and disseminate statistics, and to work with other organisations on statistical activities.
Statistical leadership has grown in importance due to a number of factors, including the increasing complexity of the Australian economy and society (meaning that production of existing statistics is often commensurately more complex), and the increasing plurality of data providers. The wide range of statistics being produced by agencies other than the ABS, including through administrative and transactional data bases, is driving a need to ensure that the overall Australian statistical system is cohesive, and that the ABS role in this system is clearly defined. These changes coincide with an Australian government agenda that is emphasising greater information sharing (create once, use many), and coordinated policy and program initiatives across agencies.
To provide statistical leadership, the ABS has broadened the concept of its statistical role to exercise leadership not only in relation to statistics collected by the ABS, but also data produced or available from other government and non-government agencies.
The agencies who own data are often best placed to produce statistics from these data bases as long as they have the staff with the appropriate skills. However, where other agencies do not have the appropriate skills, the ABS is often asked to assist.
The ABS has identified a variety of activities to progress the role as a statistical leader:
In pursuing the development of the National Statistical Service, a unit, the NSS Leadership Branch, was established in February 2006. The Branch assists the ABS in improving the management of external relationships and advancing its statistical leadership role. To further support these endeavours, two additional senior executive positions were also created in the Economic and Population Statistics Groups to allow an increased focus on building and strengthening collaborative arrangements with agencies at senior levels.
Some of the main achievements in terms of the National Statistical Service are:
The Hon Peter Costello MP, Treasurer, speaking at the event celebrating the centenary of the ABS and 100 years of statistics on 8 December 2005
ABS STATISTICAL PROGRAMS – THE ABS AS PART OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL SYSTEM
As noted earlier, the ABS is the largest contributor to Australia's national statistical system. The ABS has statistical programs covering economic statistics and population and social statistics (the two outputs of the ABS). These programs both produce a wide range of statistical information, as well as activities to advance the national statistical system and support other contributors to the national statistical service.
At the broad level, the activities undertaken within these statistical programs cover:
In determining the work program, account is taken of the:
The effectiveness and efficiency of the statistical programs is enhanced by wide ranging inputs from the ABS corporate and statistical support areas. These inputs include methodological, technological, dissemination, human resource and financial support.
The ABS continues to improve the efficiency and productivity of its survey operations and staff through the re-engineering of its business processes. On the economic statistics side, an Input Data Warehouse (IDW) and an E2E (end to end) systems environment are now well established with several collections using the new arrangements. On the population statistics side, work has continued on the development of integrated end-to-end information technology systems and processes for household surveys, and improved work practices. For more information on these issues, see chapter 15 and chapter 17.
The following chapters present the key directions and highlights for economic statistics and population and social statistics. The section on population and social statistics includes additional information on the preparations for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, which was a major activity in 2005–06.