5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2001   
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Contents >> Chapter 8. Data Quality >> Cost Effectiveness

8.82 The cost effectiveness of a set of statistics can be measured by relating the cost of their production to the statistics' perceived usefulness. There are two aspects of cost-effectiveness:

  • from the perspective of the client, who wants relevant, timely data at minimum cost; and
  • from the perspective of the ABS, whose finite resources require careful assessment of program costs and competing priorities.

8.83 Broad level trade data are available for general access on the ABS web site and held in state and major university libraries as part of the ABS Library Extension Program (LEP). These statistics are free. Clients who must pay to obtain more detailed data may dispute the cost charged for the data provided. Often a client will seek a small range of very specific statistics, with the expectation that a small volume request will incur little cost. However, to fulfil such requests, the ABS has to maintain and update a database capable of extracting such specific data, across the whole range of tradable commodities, cross-classified by country, state and port.

8.84 For those clients who require detailed trade statistics, the ABS provides a comprehensive, reliable and timely service. Revenue raised from the sale of detailed trade statistics supports the cost of providing this service. The data required may be available from other sources, such as marketing bodies, trade associations, other Australian government agencies, foreign statistical agencies, or international organisations.

8.85 The ABS minimises the costs of the International Trade Program through a number of strategies:
  • It obtains data from Customs, rather than by the more costly and burdensome process of direct collection. While most items are required for Customs purposes, a small number are collected on behalf of the ABS for statistical purposes. As a result, there is only a minimal additional impost on traders;
  • It undertakes regular reviews of procedures to reduce costs, by increasing automated processing, editing, output assembly and dissemination activities;
  • It applies significance editing, focussing editing resources where they can be most effective;
  • It only investigates client queries on detailed data, where the value queried is in excess of $250,000 per month and the costs are met by the client;
  • It undertakes periodic reviews of statistical codes to eliminate unnecessary and insignificant categories; and
  • It charges for detailed data to cover the costs of data storage, extraction, confidentialisation, distribution and marketing of data at this level. However the ABS bears all of the costs of producing the broad level statistics i.e. to the six digit level of the HS and equivalent classifications.

8.86 Changes made to the editing and investigation of small value records from 1 July 2000 have had virtually no impact on the broad aggregates released. They may have resulted in some reduction in the usefulness of very fine level data to clients who use it at that level. On the other hand, costs have been reduced by around $250,000 per annum as a result of the changes. Further details can be found in the feature article International Trade Review: Data Quality and Client Queries in the June quarter 2000 issue of International Merchandise Trade, Australia (Cat. no. 5422.0).

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