4.35. While unit and intra-sector edits (the input edits) check that (i) the classifications applied are legal, (ii) the accounts balance and (iii) flows between units are reconciled, these edits cannot establish that the correct values have been recorded. For this reason, another level of editing (output editing) is carried out prior to release of the statistics. Output editing involves looking at the output to see if it gives a result that is consistent with expectations given current government policies and economic conditions.
4.36. The first step in output editing involves the examination of trend, revision and relationship edits to identify and correct errors. GFS tables are then examined to compare data trends and movements in GFS aggregates and GFS bottom-line measures with data published in Budget documents and other public sector financial reports.
4.37. Significant variations in trend, identified in percentage and/or in dollar value terms, are the main triggers for suspecting errors in output. However, the type of transaction must be taken into account. For example, because of their volatility, large or unusual movements in capital expenditures might be less likely to indicate a possible error than movements of similar magnitude in current expenditures. Nevertheless, significant movements are investigated to determine their cause and validity. Investigation involves retrieval of the unit record data and, if necessary, raising a query with authorities responsible for supplying the data.
4.38. Relationships between aggregates are also examined. For example, increased borrowings generally lead to increased interest payments in subsequent periods. Thus, if marked increases in borrowings are not followed by commensurate increases in interest expense, both the borrowings and the interest data are investigated.
4.39. Output editing also aims to ensure that the statistics reflect the impact of changes in governments’ policies and overall trends in public sector finances. Current knowledge of changes in government policy, economic conditions and public sector finance issues is obtained from budget papers and press releases.
4.40. Where incorrect data are identified as a result of output editing, the input data is corrected and a revised output store created to ensure that both stores remain consistent at the aggregate level.
4.41. Before aggregate data can be published or released outside the ABS in any form, they must be checked to ensure that they do not disclose any information that is confidential under the provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.