24.71 Accessibility of information refers to the ease with which users can learn of its existence, locate it, and import it into their own working environment. Aspects covered include data availability, metadata availability (i.e. information about the data), and the degree of interpretative assistance available to users of the data. Data availability involves issues of data presentation and distribution media, as well as the availability of non-confidential but unpublished data. Metadata availability concerns the availability of information concerning the concepts, sources and methods associated with that data. Accessibility also considers whether the information surrounding or supporting the data is openly available to the public.
24.72 Most aspects of accessibility in the ABS are determined by agency-wide dissemination policies and delivery systems. At the program level, the main responsibility is to choose appropriate delivery systems, and to ensure that statistical products are properly included within corporate catalogue systems.
Accessing the data
24.73 The ABS provides users with ready access to national accounts statistics. Paper publications have now largely given away to a variety of electronic releases which are now the preferred way of accessing statistical information. Everything on the ABS website is free-of-charge, and this includes all standard releases of national accounts information.
24.74 A national accounts theme page on the ABS website lists all the quarterly and annual national accounts datasets currently available. It also provides an extensive range of national accounts information including access to the latest national accounts data. Key results are highlighted.
24.75 Information about the full range of national accounts and other ABS publications is available through the <Statistics> link on the ABS website.
24.76 Some users require more detail than that provided in the standard national accounts releases, and can seek information on request, and, subject to cost-recovery charges, the information will be provided if available, and of sufficient quality.
Accessing the metadata
24.77 The ABS has a range of ways of providing users with information about national accounts data. This publication outlines the major concepts and definitions; describes the data sources and methods used to prepare the estimates; and provides information about the ways in which the relevant international concepts and standards have been implemented in Australia. It also discusses the accuracy and reliability of national accounting concepts and estimates.
24.78 The web page for each publication leads with key statistics. Information is included about future releases and about any revisions and changes in the issue. The <On this page> box describes the major elements of the data, the tables and graphs contain footnotes to alert users to relevant issues that affect the data series. Each publication links to its own <Methodology> page containing a glossary and explanatory notes, which comment on the key concepts, sources and methods and their implications for the quality of estimates. A quality declaration provides a brief assessment of the statistics against the seven dimensions of the ABS data quality framework.
Information about releases
24.79 The ABS website provides information about upcoming releases. Release dates of national accounts publications are announced in advance — in general release advices, and in the < Future Releases> and <Previous Releases> tabs attached to individual publications.
24.80 The ABS adheres to the long-established principle that the results of statistical collections should be made available to all users at the same time, and as soon as practicable. The Bureau will consider giving very limited pre-release access for the purpose of briefing a Minister. An embargo is placed on the release of statistics until 11.30 am (Canberra time) on the designated day of release. There are strict security procedures to ensure that there is no unauthorised access of statistics prior to release.
Consulting with users
24.81 Users are routinely consulted regarding their data requirements, and how they would like to see the data presented in publications and electronic media. On the 21st of September 2020 the ABS launched a new website with a key aim to improve user experience and address feedback. National Accounts significantly improved publication content with the new ABS website. Improvements included more prominent key statistics, more interpretable analysis and other content, interactive graphs and tables, and improved search functionality.