Independent review will help ABS maintain a strong information security culture

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5 August 2014
Independent review will help ABS maintain a strong information security culture

Following the arrest of an ABS staff member for a range of offences relating to the alleged disclosure of sensitive statistics in May 2014, the ABS contracted Belinda Gibson, a former Deputy Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to conduct a review of ABS Sensitive Information Controls.

The review assessed the ABS system of controls relating to the unauthorised disclosure of market sensitive information. It involved an assessment of ABS policies and processes, interviews with ABS staff, and benchmarking of the ABS controls against other Australian Government and various international statistical organisations.

The review found that the ABS operates with a coherent scheme of controls to protect against unauthorised disclosure, which is broadly consistent with other similar government agencies.

Acting Australian Statistician, Jonathan Palmer, said the review confirms the strong value the ABS places in maintaining the security of information entrusted to the agency.

“The ABS is pleased that the review found no systemic or widespread issues with the way we handle confidential personal and market sensitive information, or with our general security policies and practices,” Mr Palmer said.

“This gives further weight to our strong security culture and controls, and our embargo for the release of statistics to prevent unauthorised disclosure of information.”

Mr Palmer said the review identified the following four areas for improvement, with specific recommendations in each of these:
Access controls
Culture and training
Financial disclosures, and
IT monitoring and surveillance.

“The ABS agrees with all identified areas for improvement and supports the recommendations,” Mr Palmer said.

“We are committed to continuous improvement to ensure we can maintain the security of the information that we collect and hold. We will implement all of these recommendations as soon as practicable.”

Mr Palmer said the review reinforces the need to continually strive to operate with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

“Ongoing trust in the ABS is paramount. Without it, we cannot collect the information we need to provide independent statistical information to inform public debate and enable effective decision-making,” he said.

The full review report can be found at

Media notes:
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.