The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) purpose is to inform Australia’s important decisions by partnering and innovating to deliver relevant, trusted and objective data, statistics and insights.
The ABS sets its work program following extensive consultation with stakeholders. We operate within the Appropriation revenues we receive from government and other user funding.
The ABS has been prioritising its statistical work program for some time, with reductions in the ABS statistical program announced in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2017 and some limited changes this year. Our critical social statistics program is very dependent upon user funding.
From our budget funding, we have prioritised delivery of key official statistics. We have devoted more resources to risk management of our core economic and population statistics, and we are spending more on some key collections (such as our monthly Labour Force Survey) to maintain the quality of statistical outputs demanded by key users. Planning for the 2021 Census is on track and significant improvements are being made in the program.
User funding is allowing the ABS to pursue a number of our major social surveys over coming years, including the Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers, National Health Survey, a number of key surveys measuring the social condition and health of our Indigenous people, and the Personal Safety Survey. ABS is grateful for this extra funding that allows us to conduct these essential social surveys.
At the same time, we are enhancing our effectiveness. We have improved external collaborations, enhanced governance to better manage risks, now have a more diverse workforce, improved internal collaboration, and are introducing fit for purpose infrastructure. Government and ABS co-investment will strengthen our statistical infrastructure over time and ABS is continually upgrading our data protections.
The information environment and our economy, population, society and natural environment are constantly changing. As much as resources allow, the ABS is pursuing improvements to our measurement of the economy, labour market and population. Additional government funding in the 2018 Budget is enabling some enhancements of our core economic statistics, including housing stock, Consumer Price Index (CPI) and labour accounts.
The ABS is also pursuing some new statistical solutions. The Data Integration Partnership for Australia, funded until June 2020, is enriching the information available to inform significant public policy issues and evaluate the effectiveness of government programs. This should be an increasingly valuable data resource to inform public policy choices. Some attention is being given to statistical innovation, the use of big data for statistical purposes and enabling greater use of data. ABS staff are progressing as much innovation as feasible.
The ABS necessarily needs to make choices about what we do and what we cannot do within the resources we receive. I am pleased to present our work program for 2018–19 and following years.
David W. Kalisch