Policy on Pre-Release Access to ABS Statistics and Publications

To provide equality of access for all, the ABS releases its statistics and publications via its website to all government, commercial and public users of ABS statistics, simultaneously. In general, this occurs at 11.30 am (Canberra time) on the day of their release. Prior to this release date and time, all ABS statistics are treated as confidential and are under embargo.

From time to time, pre-release access to ABS statistics and publications may be granted to selected stakeholders. Pre-release access is only provided for finalised statistics and publications. The ABS does not provide pre-release access to seek comments on these finalised statistics and publications.

The provision of pre-release access may be appropriate where either:

(a) the interpretation of the release is likely to be complex enough to require analysis in advance to support informed responses and commentaries; and/or
(b) on the day of release a relevant Australian government official, Australian government entity or Australian government minister is likely to be asked to provide public comment on the release.

For selected government agencies, a secure "lockup" facility is provided for pre-release access to both market sensitive and estimated resident population statistics and publications. This enables authorised government officials and ministerial staff time to analyse the release and develop briefings to be provided to relevant ministers after lifting of the embargo.

Authorised persons attending a lockup are required to remain in a secure room managed by ABS staff, and are prohibited from communicating any information from the statistical release to anyone outside the room until after the embargo is lifted. Attendees at the lockup are also required to sign security undertakings which include provision for prosecution under the Crimes Act 1914 for anyone who breaches the conditions for attending the lockup.

The following products are approved for provision to authorised persons via ABS-hosted lockups on the morning of the day of their release:

• Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5302.0)
• Labour Force, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 6202.0)
• Consumer Price Index, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6401.0)
• Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product - quarterly (cat. no. 5206.0)
• International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 5368.0)
• Lending to Households and Businesses, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 5601.0)
• Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5625.0)
• Business Indicators, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 5676.0)
• Labour Price Index, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6345.0)
• Producer Price Indexes, Australia - quarterly (cat. no. 6427.0)
• Retail Trade, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 8501.0)
• Building Approvals, Australia - monthly (cat. no. 8731.0)
• Australian National Accounts: State Accounts - annual (cat. no. 5220.0)
• Construction Work Done, Australia, Preliminary - quarterly (cat. no. 8755.0)

In addition to the above arrangements, and having regard to the complexity of analyses required, a number of Commonwealth Treasury officials have access to Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0) in the afternoon of the day before its release.

In exceptional circumstances, approval may be given for additional ad hoc lockups for other key statistical releases. Where possible, a public notice of intention to hold such a lockup will be published on the ABS website.

Pre-release access to non-market sensitive statistics and publications can be arranged where it is deemed appropriate. Access can be provided ahead of the release to approved persons where they have signed an undertaking not to disclose the content of the statistics and/or publication prior to the lifting of the embargo.

The ABS also provides authorised Wires service providers with a shorter secure “lockup” to enable them to prepare, referred to as the "Wires Preparation Service".

The Wires Preparation Service allows access to a limited range of embargoed key statistical products (Category 1 and all but two Category 2 Main Economic Indicators, and one Other Leading Indicator), to authorised Wires service representatives in a secure environment at the ABS NSW office, 44 Market Street, Sydney, 10 minutes prior to their public release. Wires service providers are not permitted to release any material until the embargo has been lifted. Access to statistics via the Wires Preparation Service is to ensure market sensitive material is accurately represented at the time of public release. It is not intended to facilitate more comprehensive analyses of the statistics.

From November 2018 the ABS will progressively move to deliver data via an Application Programmable Interface (API) service as soon as the embargo is lifted at 11.30 am (Canberra time). Access to this service will only be granted to approved Wires service providers as a planned alternative to the current paper based preparation service.

The following Wires service providers attend the Wires Preparation Service:
  • Associated Press
  • AAP
  • Bloomberg News
  • Dow Jones Newswires
  • Market News International
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Selerity

David W. Kalisch
Australian Statistician

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