18.7 EXTERNAL SCRUTINY
The ABS is subject to external scrutiny from a range of bodies. These include the Australian Statistics Advisory Council, and other advisory groups, which comment on the ABS work program (for more information see chapter 9).
There are a range of bodies established by the Australian Government that can examine the operations of the ABS. The ABS assisted in providing information to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the Commonwealth Ombudsman and parliamentary committees during 2005–06. Information on submissions made to Parliamentary Committees is available in an online appendix. Documents tabled in Parliament by the ABS are listed in an online appendix. ABS obligations under Freedom of Information are examined in Appendix 5. ABS assistance with ANAO studies is detailed below.
There were no adverse comments relating to the ABS from the ANAO, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, parliamentary committees, or courts or tribunals during 2005–06.
While no ANAO studies specifically focused on the ABS in 2005–06, the ABS participated in a number of ANAO studies, including Salary Packaging Administration; Compliance with the Outcomes and Outputs Framework; Reporting of Expenditure on Consultants; and Green Office Procurement.
Together with three service delivery agencies, the ABS was included in a performance audit on Forms for Individual Service Delivery. The aim of the audit was to examine how well key Australian Government agencies, responsible for delivery of services to individuals manage form design and review. The ABS household form for the Census of Population and Housing was used as a benchmark for comparison, on the basis that it has been subject to continuous improvement and testing over a very long period, and could therefore offer potential for the identification of sound practices in form design and review.
There was one general recommendation from the audit:
That agencies test the usability of their forms prior to their release, taking account of the literacy skills and accessibility needs of their client groups.
The ABS supported the recommendation.
During the course of the audit, the ANAO developed a Better Practice Guide, User Friendly Forms: Key Principles and Practices to Effectively Design and Communicate Australian Government Forms. ABS input into contributing to the ANAO' understanding of practices in form design was acknowledged.