Statement in response to the AFR story published online 5 July 2018

The ABS denies any wrongdoing and is extremely disappointed this clearly misunderstood hearsay is being used to suggest inappropriate actions by the ABS.

As is common practice for transformation activities, the ABS has contributed funding and staff resourcing to deliver the Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) to replace its aging IT infrastructure. ABS has been funded to deliver a range of activities and appropriately makes budget allocation decisions depending on priorities. This includes how to fund new initiatives such as SBTP.

Where possible, the ABS is seeking to use SBTP IT capabilities to contribute to the 2021 Census. This will reduce duplication and unnecessary expenditure, and support its obligation to taxpayers to deliver a 2021 Census that not only provides data to help inform Australia's important decisions, but also delivers value for money. We will continue to explore avenues to deliver a cost effective 2021 Census.

The ABS takes its responsibilities to appropriately procure advice, and spend taxpayers money, very seriously. As part of the APS we comply with a range of transparency, reporting and integrity measures, including careful reporting of our activities including in our Annual Reports, having an Independent Audit Committee with an Independent Chair and annual ANAO auditing of our financial accounts. We welcome reviews, including the Department of Finance Gateway Reviews and inquiries when required. ABS also has independent members on our SBTP and Census Executive Boards.

ABS is also willing to appear before parliamentary committees and inquiries. Earlier this week the ABS wrote to the Chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit welcoming the opportunity to give evidence on this matter should it be required.

ABS response to Australian Financial Review article published 29 June 2018