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Strategic Priority 1: Provide high quality statistics

This criterion links directly to the ABS Portfolio Budget Statement Target, which has one outcome: “Decisions on important matters made by governments, business and the broader community are informed by objective, relevant and trusted official statistics produced through the collection and integration of data, its analysis, and the provision of statistical information.”

Our Planned Performance: Decision making by governments, business and the community is informed by high quality statistics.

Target 1.1: ABS statistics meet target standards1

Context: The integrity and credibility of the ABS, and productive nature of ABS stakeholder relationships, are built on the ability of the ABS to continue to provide quality statistics that meet international standards as well as assure the Australian public that our products are capable of effectively informing new legislation and policy. We are also required by legislation to meet particular standards in our products.

ABS subscribes to the IMF Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) which allows surveillance of our data provision

How we will measure this

Result: Achieved

1.1.1 Assessment of key ABS statistics against international and national standards – IMF Standards

1.1.1 ABS continues to produce key economic and population statistics with appropriate coverage, frequency and timeliness as assessed by the International Monetary Fund against the Special Data Dissemination Standard; except where the ABS has made an explicit decision not to do so, following consultation with stakeholders, based on Australian needs and circumstances.

In meeting the Standard, Australia has taken two flexibility options in respect of the periodicity and/or timeliness for the dissemination of Production Indexes and Price Indexes. The Standard prescribes monthly dissemination for Production Indexes with timeliness of no later than six weeks after the reference period (whereas Australia’s Production Indexes are disseminated quarterly and with a timeliness of no later than one quarter after the end of the reference quarter). For Price Indexes the Standard prescribes monthly dissemination and timeliness of no later than one month after the reference period (whereas Australia’s price indexes are disseminated quarterly, within one month of the reference period).

In these areas where flexibility in regard to periodicity and timeliness has been exercised, Australia does not believe that an understanding of its current economic circumstances is jeopardised.

In addition, Australia has taken permitted calendar flexibility options for the dissemination of the precise release dates of both data on central government operations and data on central government debt. The flexibility options are required for these data categories because the data are approved by the Minister for Finance prior to release and so the precise release dates cannot be guaranteed in advance.

Target 1.2 Key stakeholders are satisfied with the quality, timeliness and range of our statistics2


Overall: The nature of the ABS business is to ensure that we provide quality statistics to our users and the level of quality is determined by international standards and partner stakeholders. It is critical that the ABS continues to build and maintain trust from its stakeholders in order to maintain relevance into the future. A key ABS risk to achieving this goal is failing to provide relevant, accurate and timely statistics and therefore this is monitored and measured across ABS collections.

1.2.1: Indicates key stakeholders’ satisfaction with the quality, timeliness and range of ABS statistics.

1.2.2: Demonstrates key stakeholders’ satisfaction with the quality, timeliness and range of ABS statistics.

How we will measure this

Result: Achieved

1.2.1 The two yearly Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment

1.2.1 Results from the 2018 Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment survey, which included stakeholders from government, academia, community groups, business and industry bodies, demonstrated that stakeholders used a range of ABS statistics, with Population (including Census), Economy, and Labour the most frequently used.

Additionally over 90% of stakeholders surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that the ABS is a credible source of data and information, and a national asset that provides value to Australia2.

Respondents indicated that2 :

  • 85% were very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of the statistics that they use; 10% were neutral
  • 68% were very satisfied or satisfied with the timeliness of the statistics; 15% were neutral
  • 66% were very satisfied or satisfied with the range of statistics available; 23% were neutral
  • 80% were satisfied with the relevance of the statistics; 11% were neutral.

Stakeholders identified a desire for greater access to and timeliness of, statistics and services, and modifications to formats. These preferences are beyond the current ABS funding envelope.

Respondents noted reduced funding and resources have impacted the range of information available and the quality of outputs.

ABS Senior Executive reported that both our Economic and Population and Social Statistics Advisory Groups met twice and our State Statistical Forum met once during the 2017–18 reporting period. A review into the effectiveness of these advisory groups has been completed. The reviews found that stakeholders wish to see them continue with a modified format and more strategic focus. Stakeholders are finding value in the consultation and the opportunity to discuss strategic work program issues with the ABS.

Economic trilateral meetings have been held with the Commonwealth Treasury Department and Reserve Bank of Australia. The RBA and Treasury have utilised these meetings to provide the ABS with advice on pilot projects, proposals to enhance the sustainability of Labour Force Estimates, and the future direction of economic measurement.

1.2.2 Stakeholder case studies

1.2.2 Case Study 1: Enhancements to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) (see page 40)

2 6% of respondents did not answer these questions. Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components are due to rounding

Our Planned Performance: ABS Statistics are widely used

Target 1.3: The uptake of ABS statistics increases each year, including stakeholders reporting increased usage of ABS statistics, data and insights in their work3

Overall: An increase in the uptake of ABS statistics demonstrates that ABS stakeholders have continued trust in ABS delivery of high quality, relevant products. The following suite of measures indicates how the ABS ensures statistics are widely used.

1.3.1: Are more people seeking information from the ABS website? An indicator of trust in the ABS and usage of ABS data.

1.3.2: Are more organisations collaborating with the ABS? An indicator of the value others see in partnering with the ABS and/or gaining greater access to ABS data.

1.3.3: Are more DataLab sessions being used to access ABS data? An indicator of the value others see in working with the ABS and gaining greater access to ABS data.

1.3.4: Is revenue from ABS data consultancies increasing? A monetary indicator of value i.e. how much organisations are prepared to pay for ABS data to contribute to their work.

1.3.5: Do stakeholders use and trust ABS statistics and is usage is increasing?

1.3.6: Are there case studies to demonstrate stakeholders’ increased usage of ABS statistics, data and insights?

How we will measure this

Result: Achieved

1.3.1 Website usage

1.3.1 64,001,395 page views from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. This is an increase from 63,948,201, an additional 53,134 page views compared to 2016–17. Additional views over this period indicate that the ABS site has remained a relevant source of information over the past twelve months.

1.3.2 Number of new

agreements with other entities

1.3.2 In demonstration of uptake of ABS statistics and stakeholders initiating agreements with the ABS in order to utilise ABS statistics, 79 new agreements were made in the 2017–18 financial year.

1.3.3 Use of Datalab

1.3.3 The number of DataLab sessions for the 2017–18 financial year was 5,541. This was a significant increase of 3,919 sessions compared to the previous financial year (Note: figures for previous financial year are from Nov 2016 as that is when the DataLab commenced.)

The growth in the number of DataLab sessions is attributed to: greater access being provided to a virtual DataLab environment, rather than requiring users to be onsite in an ABS office to access the DataLab; the progressive decommissioning of the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) tool and migration of users over to the new DataLab; as well as the greater value that DataLab provides to users in the level of detail that they are able to see in DataLab, hence creating a demand for training and access to the new tool.

1.3.4 Consultancy revenue

1.3.4 In demonstration of uptake of ABS statistics, the value of Information Consultancies for the 2017–18 financial year was $962K. This was achieved with an increase of $332K on the previous financial year. The increase is primarily driven by the release of the 2016 Census. In addition to consultancy revenue, the ABS has received $34M in user funded revenue.

1.3.5 The two yearly Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment

1.3.5 Results from the Stakeholder Relationship Health Assessment survey showed that just over half of stakeholders (52%) used ABS statistics or services on a daily or weekly basis, with a further 25% reporting usage of once or twice a month.

Over the last 12 months, 86% of stakeholders either increased or maintained their use of ABS statistics.

Just under half (49%) of respondents reported accessing ABS statistics via three or more different channels with the most common being the ABS Website (89%), DataLab, Microdata Download and TableBuilder (66%).

The results showed stakeholders used ABS statistics for a range of purposes, with 62% recording three or more different purposes. The most frequently reported were:

  • Policy development or evaluation (66%)
  • Research (61%)
  • Modelling and forecasting (48%)

ABS statistics were also used for monitoring and market analysis, services planning, and spending decisions and resource/funding allocation.

1.3.6 Stakeholder case studies

1.3.6 Case Study 2: Chief Economist (see page 41)


  1. * Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017-18, pg. 14–15
  2. 6% of respondents did not answer these questions. Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components are due to rounding *Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017-18, pg. 14–15
  3. *Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017-18, pg. 14–15