Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the frequently asked questions raised during both the ESA list development process and the quality assessment process for the ESA for Australia initiative. Please consult the ABS website for further information.
How was the 2013 list of ESA for Australia developed?
To determine the 2013 list of ESA for Australia, the following four criteria were used (in order of importance).
The scope of the ESA for Australia initiative is currently limited to official government statistics. Private sector organisations also produce statistics and information that are used for decision making by governments and may be considered essential for their needs. However, they are not currently in scope for this initiative as the Government cannot make resourcing decisions about datasets owned by the private sector, nor can it make decisions on improving the quality of those datasets.
In May 2012, the ABS, through the National Statistical Service website, released a consultation paper seeking public comment and feedback on the ESA for Australia initiative and the preliminary list. In the six months following the release, there was a significant program of engagement and consultation between the ABS and stakeholders across the public service at the Australian Government and state/territory levels; data custodians and key users; statistical governance forums and user groups; and members of the public.
Establishing the 2013 list of ESA for Australia has enabled preliminary identification of critical information gaps, particularly where there was no data at that time to support a particular statistic on the list. Many perceived gaps in the current statistical environment, however, relate to the need for more detailed breakdowns or improved quality of existing statistics. A quality assessment of each dataset listed on the 2013 list of ESA was undertaken in 2014, with the results published in December 2014. The quality assessment summaries are available in the 2014 issue of the ESA for Australia publication (cat. no 1395.0), available on the ABS website.
What are the quality assessments for ESA?
The quality assessment for ESA assessed the quality of the statistical assets identified on the 2013 list. The quality assessment process provided a more in-depth consideration and understanding of how well the currently produced information meets the critical needs of users, as well as highlighting gaps within existing statistics. The quality assessment process of Phase 2 of ESA produced overarching indicators of quality for 71 of the 74 essential statistics on the 2013 list (three statistics were data gaps and an assessment could not be produced).
The quality assessment process also allowed for refinements to be made to the original 2013 list. These refinements were the result of extensive feedback received from data custodians and specialist input from users and program areas throughout the quality assessment process. The revised list portrays a more holistic and realistic reflection of each ESA. For more information about these changes, refer to Appendix 2 in the ESA for Australia 2014 publication.
What are the benefits to the nation?
The quality assessments of the 74 essential statistical assets are an important step forward in strengthening the National Statistical Service. For the first time in Australia, users and producers of statistical information will now have a common understanding of the quality of ESA. The ESA initiative contributes to more informed decisions and enables better utilisation and investment of government resources.
Participating in the quality assessment process has produced a number of benefits for data custodians, such as:
Data quality is a fitness for purpose concept, where data is assessed with reference to its intended objectives or aims. The statistics have been assessed for the purpose of ESA. This means the standards and quality indicators used for the assessment were based on the descriptions of the statistic, critical disaggregations, critical spatial levels and critical frequencies - as identified for the purpose of ESA in Phase 1 of the initiative. The quality assessment results may likely differ if assessed for a different purpose.
What does it mean for those statistics not on the list of ESA for Australia?
There are many other official statistics currently collected and produced not just by the ABS, but by a range of other government bodies at the Australian Government and state and territory level that are not on the list of ESA for Australia. The ESA for Australia initiative will not in itself lead the ABS or any other agency to cut any statistics which are not present on the list, however, as has always been the case, the ABS will continue to shape its work program to ensure its resources are used most effectively.
There is no obligation or cost to data custodians as a result of their statistics/datasets appearing on the list of ESA for Australia. Appearing on the list highlights the importance of their statistics for decision making and service delivery and will raise awareness of the availability of their statistics more generally.
Furthermore, inclusion on the list does not impose a commitment on custodians to continue collecting data, restrict changes being made to the dataset, or alter current practices for making information accessible. The quality assessment process has been valuable in helping to identify where there are information gaps within the statistical system, and the ABS is committed to working with stakeholders (including data custodians) to address them.
Whilst the quality assessment summaries provided in the ESA for Australia 2014 publication do not provide guidelines for data custodian where issues of quality have been identified, they can serve as a starting point for developing guidelines and/or future initiatives to improve quality processes.
Will there be future iterations of ESA?
As the first iteration of ESA, this has been an evolving process, uncovering various issues and learnings that are being addressed in a review of the process, which is currently underway. This will form the basis of the next iteration planned for 2016. The objective is that ESA will be a project completed every three to five years, so that the statistics on the list remain relevant and the results useful.
Yes. The ABS only asks that it be acknowledged as the source of the data. Unless otherwise noted, all material on the ABS website – except the ABS logo, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and any material protected by a trade mark – is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence. If you use ABS material, you are required to attribute the work to ABS. See the Creative Commons page on the ABS website for more information.
Where can I find a copy of the ESA list and quality assessments?
The 2014 issue of ESA for Australia 2014 publication is available on the ABS website. This contains an overview of the quality assessment results in Appendix 1, detailed statistic assessment summaries in Appendix 6 and the revised list of ESA for Australia in Appendix 2.
Where can I find a copy of the consultation paper?
A copy of the ESA for Australia public consultation paper (1.2 MB) is available for download from the NSS website.