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Strategic Priority 2: Transform the ABS for the future.*

Our Planned Performance: The Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) continues to be implemented to agreed timeframes.

Target 2.1: SBTP achieves mid-point deliverables as assessed by the Gateway Review1

Context: The Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) is one of the largest transformation programs the ABS has undertaken in recent years, and will enable the ABS to achieve its long and short term goals. The SBTP initiatives will improve capability and productivity across the organisation, and ensure continued support of the ABS stakeholders.

The Gateway Review process is administered by the Department of Finance and is in place to strengthen governance and assurance practices and to assist agencies to successfully deliver major projects and programmes. It was agreed that the 2017 Gateway review would be used to provide the Government assurance that SBTP was on track at the mid-point of the program, and therefore secure the release of the second tranche of program funding.

How we will measure this

Result: Achieved

2.1.1 Gateway Review

2.1.1 The ABS was subject to mid-stage Gateway Reviews of the Statistical Business Transformation (SBT) Program November/December 2017. This review, conducted on behalf of the Department of Finance, resulted in a Delivery Confidence Assessment (DCA) of Green/Amber, with the report recognising the Program’s proven track record in the timely delivery of technically complex mid-term deliverables, its commitment to continuous improvement in its Program management and delivery, and the quality of its planning for the next stage. A Green/Amber DCA indicates that ‘Successful delivery of the Program to time, cost, quality standards and benefits realisation appears probable. However constant attention will be needed to ensure risks do not become major issues threatening delivery’.

Target 2.2: Pioneer statistical collections are transitioned to SBTP capabilities2

Context: The on-boarding of pioneer collections to the transformed ABS environment will provide invaluable insight as to the usability and effectiveness of the new SBTP capabilities. There is currently limited knowledge of the interdependencies and overall operability, and this will provide an opportunity to test the environment whilst still in the warranty period for the products. This is an integral step in the implementation process that will inform further risk management and planning as the transition period progresses.

How we will measure


Result: Substantially achieved

2.2.1 SBTP Transition

Plan performance


2.2.1 The General Social Survey Dress Rehearsal and the Health Literacy Survey were the first statistical collections to use new SBTP capabilities.These collections have provided assurance that SBTP capabilities work, and have helped identify improvements for the next round of statistical collections.

Health Literacy Survey

The Heath Literacy Survey (HLS) is currently making use of new telephone interviewing capabilities delivered by the SBT Program. Collection of the HLS is scheduled to run until September 2018, over 55% of Household interviews have been successfully completed as at 30 June 2018.

General Social Survey (GSS) Dress Rehearsal in May 2018

Enhanced Data Acquisition capabilities delivered by the SBT Program were successfully proven through a live Dress Rehearsal for the General Social Survey (GSS). The GSS Dress Rehearsal used the new web collection capability and new capabilities for Household Interviewers to collect required information from over 500 selected Households. This is the first time that the ABS has utilised web collection capabilities for a Special Social Survey.

Onboarding Migration Tool

The Onboarding Migration Tool (OMT) was released in June 2018 and is proving to be an effective way for survey areas to populate and author metadata quickly.

Next Collections Scheduled for Onboarding

The following collections are scheduled to onboard by February 2019:

  • Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) Dress Rehearsal
  • Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) Survey
  • General Social Survey (GSS) Main Event

Our Planned Performance: The ABS builds the capacity and capability of staff, driving

cultural change and improving performance.

Target 2.3: People and Culture Action Plan actions are implemented3

Context: An effective People and Culture Action Plan will support work towards ensuring staffing capability and sustainability, and assist in achieving the People aspect of the ABS transformation goals. The Plan provides actions targeted to achieve the ABS Workforce Strategy’s goals. Results are measured through an assessment of the People and Culture Action Plan performance reports.

How we will measure


Result: Substantially achieved

2.3.1 ABS People and

Culture Action Plan

performance reports

2.3.1 81% (26 of 32) actions scheduled for the 2017–18 financial year have been implemented. Of the six actions from the ABS People and Culture Action Plan 2017 & 2018 that were reported in April as not implemented, one is expected to be delivered in August 2018 (A.23 – ABS Inclusion and Diversity Strategy), while the others are being encapsulated in either alternate or larger pieces of work.

Examples of successes resulting from these actions include:

  • ABS was the Federal Government Champion at the 2018 Champions of Flexible Working Awards.
  • All ABS offices have transitioned to Activity Based Working (ABW). Resources were delivered for staff in transitioning to ABW environments.
  • An ABS Inclusion and Diversity Strategy was developed for all diversity groups.
  • ABS delivered a Graduate Development Program aligned to transformational and post-transformational needs. The ABS ranked 17th in the GradAustralia Top 100 Student Survey of preferred graduate employers.
  • Operational Workforce Plans, incorporating identification of critical positions and succession planning, were implemented by all Divisions.
  • A structured approach to change management was developed for SBTP. Statistical Families all have formally trained Change Leads.
  • ABS delivered a leader-led culture change program. 89% of SES surveyed feel well prepared to lead culture change in the ABS. 76% had changed the way they behaved and interacted with others.
  • A Job Design Framework has been developed for the organisation.

Target 2.4: The ABS Workforce Strategy is developed and implementation has commenced4

Context: The ABS Workforce Strategy provides a four-year outlook on key deliverables that aim to achieve a diverse, expert, motivated and agile workforce. The ABS Workforce Strategy is an integral part of the overall ABS Transformation and relates directly to the ‘People’ and ‘Culture’ Transformation goals. This strategy is supported by an annual People and Culture Action Plan.

Results are measured through the assessment of the ABS Workforce Strategy Desired Results and Performance Indicators.

How we will measure this

Result: Substantially achieved

2.4.1 ABS Workforce

Strategy performance


2.4.1 As at 30 June 2018, 79% (22 of 28) of the Strategy’s success measures were reported as on track or within acceptable tolerances.

Of the six success measures reported as not being on track or within acceptable tolerances, three are now considered on track:

  • staff perceptions of the utilisation of their skills are positive and increasing (current State of the Service survey results indicates 83% up 6% from 2017)
  • staffing expenditure within budget (ABS spent according to budget in 2016–17)
  • proportion of staff who identify as having a disability increases (6% in 2017. 7% in 2018)

Three measures are still in progress:

  • management structure and span of control
  • management of underperformance
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment

Key progress includes:

  • ABS staff are capitalising on contemporary ways of working. Take-up of teleworking and use of virtual teams has increased significantly. The adoption of Flexible Working Environments and Activity Based Working has resulted in savings in ABS floor space across all offices and increased opportunities for diversity and productivity outcomes.
  • The proportion of women in the ABS SES reached 50% in this financial year, exceeding the target of 46% set for 2020 in the Strategy.
  • ABS continues to be proactive about staff health and wellbeing. Accepted Comcare claims per 1000 FTE have dropped markedly since the implementation of the plan in 2015 – down from 8.3 to 2.7 claims/FTE.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of staff responding to the 2017 APS Employee Census believed “senior leaders ensure that work effort contributes to the strategic direction of the agency and the APS”.
  • The ABS Workforce Strategy will be updated in 2018–19 to reflect the evolving operating environment.


  1. *Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017–18, pg. 14–15
  2. *Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017–18, pg. 14–15
  3. Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017-18, pg. 14–15
  4. *Source: ABS Corporate Plan 2017–18, pg. 14–15