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Governance fora

An important feature of ABS corporate governance is the role played by governance boards, councils and committees. These fora provide critical avenues for decision making, seeking and providing advice, and facilitating consultation. Activities undertaken by ABS governance committees include: developing policies and strategies, identifying ABS priorities, assessing and responding to risks, and monitoring performance.

In November 2018 the Executive Board reviewed the effectiveness of the governance model implemented in mid-2017. The Board endorsed updates to membership and responsibilities of each forum to further strengthen the governance structure that enables effective and efficient decision making within the ABS.

Following the review, internal ABS governance fora are now more clearly defined within one of three categories:

1. primary governance boards: principal decision-making bodies that support the Australian Statistician

2. advisory committees: some decision-making powers in line with delegation from primary governance boards

3. engagement fora: no decision-making powers; provides advice and facilitates engagement with internal and external stakeholders.

The major governance fora in place for 2018–19 are outlined in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1: Governance fora 2018–19

Primary governance boards

Executive Board

The Executive Board is a decision-making board, chaired by the Australian Statistician, to provide leadership and strategic oversight of the ABS. It provides advice to the Australian Statistician in order for him, as the authorised decision maker under the PGPA Act, to determine direction, policy, priorities, and to ensure the efficient, economical and ethical operations of the ABS.

Audit Committee

The ABS Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the Australian Statistician on financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and the system of internal controls, including those applied to ensure legislative compliance and the execution of ABS functions. The current Chair of the ABS Audit Committee is Ms. Jennifer Clark.

Sub-Committees to the ABS Executive Board

Data Innovations and Statistical Strategy Committee

The Data Innovations and Statistical Strategy Committee is an advisory committee that guides the strategic direction of the statistical program and drives data and statistical innovation in the ABS. It assists with the prioritisation of ABS data and statistical futures, consistent with the ABS strategic priorities and directions as set by the Executive Board. It also ensures data and statistical assets of the ABS are sustained and enhanced for the future.

People Committee

The People Committee is responsible for providing cross-group engagement and effective input on the monitoring, prioritisation and operational decisions associated with people, capability and partnership functions. It includes representatives from each of the ABS diversity networks.

Security Committee

The Security Committee is responsible for ensuring the ABS complies with its legal and legislative requirements related to security. Its purpose is to ensure there are adequate internal policies, guidelines and effective practices which meet the security and privacy related requirements of relevant government policy i.e. the Protective Security Policy Framework, and the Information Security Manual.

Resource Prioritisation Committee

The Resource Prioritisation Committee is responsible for ensuring cross-group engagement on the planning, prioritisation, and allocation of resources. The Committee provides advice on strategic and key issues impacting the financial stability of the ABS; it oversees the effective planning and allocation of resources and monitors allocations and expenditure to ensure rigour, discipline and transparency. In addition, the Committee advises on adjustments to resource allocations in response to high priority in-year and emerging issues, supports effective risk management frameworks, and provides feedback and advice on relevant policies.

Advisory committees

Australian Statistics Advisory Council

The Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC) is the ABS’ key advisory body and is established under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. ASAC provides independent advice to the Minister responsible for the ABS and the Australian Statistician on improvement of statistical services, longer-term statistical priorities, and other relevant matters. It also reports to the Parliament annually. The chairperson of ASAC is Professor Gary Banks AO.

Statistical Business Transformation Program Executive Board

The Statistical Business Transformation (SBT) Program is the flagship transformation initiative of the ABS. This advisory board was established to provide high-level and independent advice and guidance to the Australian Statistician. The Board has overarching visibility of the SBT Program and is responsible for advising on investment decisions and associated commitments to government, ensuring the ongoing alignment of the SBT Program with the strategic direction and goals of the ABS.

2021 Census Executive Board

The 2021 Census Board, chaired by the Australian Statistician, provides advice around achievement of 2021 Census Program objectives, and monitoring the planning, development, operation, and delivery phases of the 2021 Census Program.

2021 Census Delivery Committee

The 2021 Census Delivery Committee, chaired by the Census Senior Responsible Officer (SRO), is responsible for providing advice, and monitoring and reviewing preparations for the 2021 Census, including but not limited to the following: adherence to the agreed design principles; determining whether delivery elements are within the agreed scope and budget; monitoring risks and response plans; securing the input and agreement of senior stakeholders to ensure progress of the program; assuring operational stability and effectiveness; and monitoring privacy and security plans.

Disclosure Review Committee

The Disclosure Review Committee (DRC) advises the Chief Methodologist on the disclosure risks and mitigation strategies associated with the dissemination of microdata and, on an exception basis, aggregate statistics. The Committee may also initiate reviews to continuously improve procedures, processes and policies, or undertake investigations where warranted or where directed by the Executive Board.

Statistical Business Transformation Program Delivery Board

The Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) Delivery Board is responsible for driving the program and delivering outcomes and benefits. This includes, but is not limited to: formulating the yearly program and recommending the program to the SBT Program Executive Board; defining the acceptable risk profile and risk thresholds for the program; and ensuring that the program delivers within its agreed boundaries.

National Health and Safety Committee

The National Health and Safety Committee (NHSC) is the forum at which the ABS, its workers and their representatives discuss organisational health and safety matters and issues. It plays a key role in our work health and safety (WHS) governance by: receiving and considering information and issues; making decisions and recommendations on organisational WHS matters; and identifying safety matters for appropriate decision-making by the People Committee.

Methodology Advisory Committee

The Methodology Advisory Committee (MAC), chaired by the Chief Methodologist, is an expert advisory group of statisticians and data scientists drawn mainly from, but not restricted to, universities across Australia and New Zealand. The function of the Committee is to provide expert advice to the Chief Methodologist on selected methodological issues that arise across the production of national statistics e.g. survey design, data linkage, analysis, confidentialisation and dissemination.

Economics Statistics Advisory Group

The Economic Statistics Advisory Group (ESAG) is an advisory committee to the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group. It is an important mechanism through which the user community can provide feedback on current and planned ABS developments in the field of economic statistics. This Group nurtures the interaction between senior ABS executives and key user groups including influential researchers, policy advisors and decision makers who have a sound appreciation of the use and value of economic statistics.

Population and Social Statistics Advisory Group

The Population and Social Statistics Advisory Group (PSSAG) is an advisory committee to the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group. It is an important mechanism through which the user community can provide feedback on current and planned ABS developments in the field of population and social statistics. This Group nurtures the interaction between the ABS and informed users of population and social statistics to gain valuable input from their knowledge and expertise.

State Statistical Forum

The State Statistical Forum (SSF), chaired by the Deputy Australian Statistician, Statistical Services Group, is an information sharing and engagement body. It supports effective interaction between the ABS and the states and territories to address common statistical issues.

Changes to governance fora during 2018–19:

  • creation of the Data Innovations and Statistical Strategy Committee, formed through the merger of the Statistical Strategy Committee and the Data Integration Sub-Committee
  • cessation of the Service Improvement Steering Committee, Statistical Strategy Committee, and Data Integration Sub-Committee
  • change of name from Resource Prioritisation and Finance Committee to Resource Prioritisation Committee.