5514.0.55.001 - Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2003  
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Contents >> Chapter 3: Data sources and collection methods >> Data sources and collection methods

DATA SOURCES

3.9. The source records for the GFS system are increasingly becoming available in centralised computer systems that maintain records for all units forming the major part of the public sector in each jurisdiction. In such circumstances the ABS no longer has to obtain data from individual units but can use data, relating to individual units, collected by central agencies in each jurisdiction (i.e. DOFA and the treasury (or equivalent) of each State and Territory). In most cases, these data have been converted to a GFS basis before arriving at the ABS. However, at the present stage of development there are variations between jurisdictions, levels of government and collection phases in the availability of unit data from central agencies. In particular, local government data are, in most cases, only available from individual local government authorities. Table 3.1 summarises the current situation regarding the use of central and individual data sources.


COLLECTION METHODS

3.10. In conjunction with the evolution of centralised data sources there has also been a continuing change towards collection of data in electronic form. The most common and preferred method is electronic transfer of computer files. Electronic transfer also occurs in the form of spreadsheet files and some data are transferred on floppy disks. It should be noted that, particularly for final annual data, the data received electronically are checked against published accounting statements, preferably those that have been subject to official final audit. Where data are not available from central agencies (e.g. some quarterly data and most data for local government), the collection methods range from electronic transfer in various forms, through use of questionnaires, to ABS analysis of published accounting statements. The questionnaires used can be standard forms (i.e. with a standard set of questions) or tailored forms, which include questions tailored to each unit that are based on the unit’s previous GFS records. Tailored forms are usually computer-generated.

3.11. Table 3.1 summarises the current situation regarding use of the various collection methods. It should be noted that the table refers only to primary data sources and collection methods and does not reflect supplementary use of published accounting statements for editing and verification purposes.

3.1. SUMMARY OF CURRENT(a) GFS DATA SOURCES AND COLLECTION METHODS
SourcesPhaseSector
Data Sources
Collection Methods
CentralIndividualElectronic
transfer
Tailored
forms
Standard
forms
Statements

CommonwealthQuarterlyGGYesYes
PNFCYesYes
GFEGGYesYes
PNFCYesYes
PFCYesYes
GFSGGYesYes
PNFCYesYesYes
PFCYesYesYes
StateQuarterlyGGall othersSAall othersSA
PNFCQ, WA, NT, ACTNSW, V, SA, TQ, WA, NT, ACTSANSW, V, T
GFEGGAllAll
PNFCAllAll
PFCAllAll
GFSGGAllAll
PNFCAllAll
PFCAllAll
LocalQuarterlyGGAllAllAll
PNFCAllAllAll
GFEGG All
PNFCAll
GFSGGAll AllAllAll
PNFCAllAll


(a) As at 30 June 2003.
Key: GFE = Government Financial Estimates (ABS Cat. no. 5501.0.55.001 and related special data services), forward estimates; GFS = Government Finance Statistics (Cat. no.5512.0), final annual data; GG = general government; PNFC = public non-financial corporations; PFC = public financial corporations; NSW = New South Wales; V = Victoria; Q = Queensland; WA = Western Australia; SA = South Australia; T = Tasmania; NT = Northern Territory; ACT = Australian Capital Territory.

3.12. In table 3.1 there are no entries under the quarterly collection for public financial corporations because, as previously noted, these corporations are not included in the quarterly collection. The local level of government does not apply in the Australian Capital Territory. There are currently no public financial corporations at the local level of government and public non-financial corporations occur at the local government level in only South Australia and Tasmania. In South Australia, the local government public non-financial corporations are small and few in number and, for that reason, are not included in the quarterly collection.

3.13. Table 3.1 indicates that quarterly Commonwealth data are supplied electronically by DOFA for general government units and the ABS collects quarterly data from public non-financial corporations via tailored forms. DOFA currently transfers GFE data electronically to the ABS for all Commonwealth general government units and public non-financial corporations but does not supply GFE data for public financial corporations, which are obtained via ABS tailored forms. Commonwealth data are supplied electronically by DOFA for all general government units, while the ABS collects the data for public corporations, using tailored forms and published accounting statements.

3.14. At the State and Territory level, quarterly general government data are currently collected via a mixture of electronic transfer from treasuries, standard and tailored forms, and analysis of accounting statements. For public non-financial corporations, quarterly data are available centrally from the Queensland, Western Australia and Australian Capital Territory treasuries. All other quarterly state data are collected from individual corporations either electronically or via tailored and standard forms

3.15. In all jurisdictions, GFE data for general government and public non-financial corporations are currently available electronically from the treasuries. GFE data for public financial corporations are available electronically from the treasuries in all states and territories except South Australia and Tasmania, where the data are extracted from financial statements.

3.16. State data for all sectors are available electronically from the treasuries in all states and territories except South Australia and Tasmania, where the data are collected by analysis of published statements. In Victoria, additional data are collected by means of annual reports and special returns.

3.17. The ABS works in partnership with Local Government Grants Commissions and Departments of Local Government (and their equivalents) to collect local government finance data.

3.18. GFE data for local governments are not collected in most jurisdictions, which explains why there are few entries under ‘Collection methods’ for this category. The GFE data are estimated by means of ‘shell estimation’, which is explained in chapter 4.

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