Deregulation at the ABS

Through our Deregulation Program we aim to reduce the survey burden on Australian businesses by 50,000 hours each year by exploring opportunities to streamline reporting of business data to the ABS and reusing data across government agencies.

The program has commenced and will run until early 2021/22 when we will report back to the Australian Government our findings and recommendations for further investment.

Talk to us!

We have contracted EY Sweeney to conduct an independent market study to understand business views, challenges, and the potential take up of a reporting solution using accounting software. This consultation is happening now until early June 2021. Following this, EY Sweeney will prepare a short report for the ABS.

EY Sweeney will be contacting businesses directly throughout May and June 2021 to conduct short telephone interviews (5 to 7 minutes). Participation is voluntary but your responses may help to make it easier for Australian businesses to report to the ABS.

Information you provide as responses to ABS surveys are collected under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. This legislation provides strong protections for your data. View our Privacy Policy for more information. For access to the EY Sweeney Privacy Policy, see https://eysweeney.com.au/privacy-policy.

We are also seeking participation from small and medium enterprises to investigate if it's possible to use their native business or accounting systems (digital service providers such as XERO, MYOB, Intuit, etc) to fulfil their reporting requirements to the ABS. If viable, this would lead to a more automated, convenient, and efficient way for business to submit their economic data.

There are several ways you can participate in the discussion to help ensure the ABS meets your data needs:

Schedule a feedback session (30 min) and chat to us about an accounting software solution that will make ABS surveys easier to complete.

Schedule a survey simulation (1 hr 20 min) to explore how your accounting software can be used to streamline the completion of ABS surveys.

You can also email any questions or concerns to deregulation@abs.gov.au. Please include your contact details and someone will be in touch promptly.


Who can I contact about the ABS Deregulation Program?

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.

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.

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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