Deregulation at the ABS

Frequently asked questions

What is this initiative?
On Tuesday, 6 October 2020, the Australian Government announced a program for the cutting the regulatory burden for businesses in the Budget.

The ABS Deregulation Program aims to reduce the survey burden on businesses by 50,000 hours each year. The program comprises three key elements:

A) Exploring the opportunity to use business accounting software for small and medium sized businesses to streamline their reporting of data to the ABS;
B) Streamline large business reporting, by reducing duplication of survey questions and improving reporting processes;
C) Reduce the burden imposed on businesses across government by reusing data across agencies/departments

Where can I find out more information about the ABS Deregulation Program?
More information on the Initiative will be provided on the ABS website over the coming weeks. If you would like to discuss the program with an ABS representative, please email the ABS (deregulation@abs.gov.au) with your contact details and someone will get back to you promptly.

How do I get involved in this initiative?
The ABS encourages business representatives to participate in this program. If you would like to get involved, please let us know by emailing deregulation@abs.gov.au

When will this program run?
The program starts immediately and will run until early 2021/22. The ABS will report back to the Australian Government on the findings of the program, with recommendations for further investment.

How will this change the way I report data to the ABS?
For businesses, this program aims to streamline, automate and simplify the reporting of data to the ABS, and reduce duplication of reporting by businesses to the ABS and across government.

Am I still going to get survey forms from the ABS?
The ABS will continue to run business surveys. However, fewer businesses will receive survey forms, and surveys will be less onerous on businesses in terms of less data requested and ease of reporting.

How much time is this going to save my business?
Savings will vary from business to business depending on factors such as the size and frequency of the surveys selected in. Most ABS surveys currently take between one and three hours to complete. The ABS aims to reduce provider burden by 50,000 hours per year.

How is reporting burden going to be reduced?
Reporting burden will be reduced through a combination of activities. These include reducing duplication of reporting, especially for large businesses, and improving ease of reporting for small and medium sized businesses.

Who has the ABS consulted with?
The ABS has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders and will continue to consult widely over the course of this program. If you would like to participate in the consultation process, please contact the ABS (deregulation@abs.gov.au)

What are the additional statistics the ABS will produce?
The ABS will investigate the potential to increase the availability of data from these initiatives. This data will help improve decision making by business and government.

New proposal to cut regulatory burden for businesses - Infographic

Deregulation Proposal


The following section describes the visual summary presented above.

Headline of infographic reads: Exploring ways to reduce business burden. ABS Deregulation Proposal.

Top left section headline reads: TODAY – Big reporting burden on business

  • Time consuming, complex & manual
  • Same data provided multiple times equals duplication
  • Many reporting channels and collection methods.
  • Lagged info, slow to reflect change.

Top right section headline reads: ANNUAL BURDEN – Many hours tied up in reporting
  • SMEs - 270,000 hrs
  • Large businesses – 88,000 hrs
  • Out-of-hours inconvenience burden
  • Up to 850 forms completed p.a.

Middle section headline reads: Three trials have been designed to demonstrate what’s possible:

1: Use natural SME business systems
  • Convenient & less time involved
  • Automated digital reporting
  • Less red tape
  • Data from accounting software

2: Streamline large business reporting
  • Consolidated ABS data request
  • Map from natural business systems
  • Ask once, use many times
  • Tailored reporting via a digital channel

3: Report once to government
  • Re-use of data reported to ABS
  • Fewer requests from agencies
  • Better alignment of data
  • ABS as data gateway for government

Bottom left section headline reads: EXPECTED RESULTS – Proof points we are looking for:
  • Easier and cheaper for large business
  • Easier and more convenient for SME’s
  • Data reported to ABS is re-used in government
  • ABS statistical quality is maintained (or improved)

Bottom right section headline reads: THE FUTURE PRIZE – Turn proofs into lasting benefits for business
  • 50,000 hrs reduction p.a.
  • 70% effort reduction p.a.*
* Average effort reduction for each in-scope respondent

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