|The ABS is Australia’s national statistical agency, providing trusted official statistics on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters of importance to Australia. The SCH was established within the ABS by a Prime Ministerial mandate, with the goal of promoting good survey practice and minimising respondent burden. With a view to finding efficiencies and ensuring that we prioritise our activities to fit with the declining ABS budget, the ABS plans to adopt a different operating model to meet this goal.|
Going forward, Commonwealth agencies will be directly responsible for minimising survey burden on business, with the ABS providing support by making materials available to assist survey development and through an optional user pays advisory service.
This means that Commonwealth agencies (and the consultants that assist them) no longer need to submit their surveys to the SCH for approval.
Below is some important information concerning the closure of the SCH:
When will the SCH stop operating?
The SCH will cease reviewing and approving surveys from 18 August 2017. The SCH will dedicate the remainder of August to informing stakeholders of the decision and ceasing/finalising current reviews.
What this means for Commonwealth agencies?
Commonwealth agencies no longer need to submit their surveys to the SCH for approval. The SCH has always had a strong focus on ensuring collections minimise the burden placed on businesses. We know that agencies take respondent burden into account during the survey development process, but without the SCH, the responsibility for minimising burden will lie with each agency.
Removing approval numbers from approved surveys
Surveys that were approved by the SCH were required to display their SCH approval number on all materials (eg: invitations/reminders/questionnaires). For repeating surveys, the SCH have provided approval for up to 5 years. Given the SCH will no longer operate, SCH approval numbers should be removed from survey materials as soon as practically possible. The SCH understands that agencies may have printed some materials (eg: letters, invitations, questionnaires) and you are still allowed to use these. However, we request that you please remove the SCH approval number before the next print batch. Similarly with electronic materials (eg: emails, on-line questionnaires), we request that you please remove the SCH approval number in time for the next cycle. Leaving approval numbers on materials for a prolonged period could cause confusion and affect the response rate of your surveys.
What resources are available to help me?
The SCH website has references to several free resources to help you prepare your survey. Alternatively, the ABS may also be able to assist your survey development through an optional user pays advisory service. To request assistance through the ABS advisory service, please submit an ABS Inquiry Form outlining the type of assistance you require. The ABS will then estimate the time required to complete the work (eg: sample design; questionnaire design) and provide you with a cost recovery quote. The ABS will also need to assess whether it has the resources available (given other priorities) to provide the advice in the time frame requested. If these costings and time frames are agreed to, the ABS will work with the agency to provide the assistance required.
How do I know if a survey is legitimate?
If you are a business that has been selected in a government survey and are uncertain if it is legitimate, we recommend that you seek contact details for the Australian Government employee responsible for the survey. You can do this by asking for these details from the Interviewer who has called you. If you have received a written invitation the contact details should be contained in the email or letter. Alternately you can call the switchboard of the relevant Government department and ask them to direct you to the correct person.