ABS response to claims review of ABS IT systems 'compromised'.

Statement provided to Australian Financial Review (AFR) on 28 June 2018.

The ABS notes this is a court matter involving a provider of independent advice and one of its ex-employees and will not comment on specific allegations aired in the court.

The ABS takes its responsibilities to appropriately procure advice and spend taxpayers money very seriously. We are doing everything we can to plan for the successful operation of the 2021 Census, including drawing on independent advice.

The Government provided $257m to replace ABS's aging statistical infrastructure with new capabilities. An independent assurance (Gateway) review, coordinated by the Department of Finance, of this project in December 2017 concluded that the review team had confidence that the program would be delivered successfully and benefits realised as long as risks were effectively managed.

A separate external assessment of what capabilities would be ready and fit for use in the 2021 Census was procured from KPMG. The procurement was made under the Commonwealth Procurement Policy. The ABS is seeking to use these new capabilities where possible in order to reduce potentially duplicative or unnecessary expenditure on the 2021 Census. The ABS did not guide KPMG towards any conclusion, but wanted their expert opinion.

The review provided a summary of possible options and costs. It did not make any recommendations. The paper was recently presented to the 2021 Census Executive Board (consisting of ABS Executive and independent members). The Board recommended that these options be further considered, particularly as the infrastructure build progresses.

The ABS is carefully managing its new infrastructure build and implementation of the 2021 Census.

Further information in response to AFR article published on 29 June 2018 claiming a review of ABS IT systems was 'compromised'.

The ABS categorically denies claims that it tried to influence the outcomes of a KPMG review in order to invest 2021 Census funds into its program to renew aging statistical infrastructure, as reported in the Australian Financial Review today. No 2021 Census funds have been redirected towards renewing the ABS' aging infrastructure.

The independent assurance (Gateway) review into the program to renew aging infrastructure, mentioned in our original statement above, found that significant progress has been made in many areas including governance, transition planning, risk management, benefits management and change management and that the program was well placed to meet its original outcomes. The review acknowledged that the program faced a number of challenges, as would be expected of a program of this size and complexity. However, it noted the review team's confidence in the ABS' ability to successfully deliver this program had increased.

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