Yes, those of us whose eyes tend to glaze over at statistics (not mentioning any names, Barnaby) have had a wake-up call. Australian Statistician, David W Kalisch made the following prediction at the  Australian Market and Social Research Society Conference in Melbourne on August 10, 2018.

“If the ABS continues to be subject to efficiency dividends over the next decade, at the same trajectory as it has for the past decade, some of the core information currently taken for granted by governments, business and the community may no longer be available. Our capacity to continue producing all of the detailed statistics around our labour market, industry activity and population would be increasingly at risk.”

The  speech noted that for over 110 years the ABS and its predecessor, the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistic,  have always aimed to modernise what it has done and how it works. However,  the 21st Century brings new challenges and opportunities which require new ways of thinking about the ABS role. “New linked data resources (such as the Data Integration Partnership for Australia) increases the opportunity for governments to better design evidence-based policy and service strategies for the community, and more comprehensively evaluate government programs.”

The DIPA website comes under the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), whose “role is to provide fresh thinking and sound advice to government.” This is done through data integration and analysis. (Unhappily, the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull demonstrated that data integration and analysis does not always prevail over Ministerial biases.)

In a 14/08/2018 article in The Mandarin. The importance of reliable statistics to good economic policymaking, Australian Statistician David W. Kalisch discusses Big data, integration and new data sources, noting that “I see data integration as the new frontier for statistical organisations. The ABS, alongside many other statistical agencies around the world, is focused on making better use of existing data, irrespective of whether the data has been collected by the statistics office or by other public and private organisations. Data is also being combined or integrated to provide new insights to inform the development of new policy; and to evaluate existing policies.”

Although he has cautioned against depriving the ABS of needed resources,  David W. Kalisch finishes on an upbeat note: I believe there are greater opportunities to identify and publicly recognise the value of our national statistics; highlight the insights produced by our national statistics and associated research; support public funding of our essential national data infrastructure; and work with the ABS and others to improve the relevance and utility of our statistical system to measure a changing economy, society and environment.”

The 14/08/2018 article in The Mandarin is a lightly-edited version of David W. Kalisch’s address to the Economics Society of Australia Conference, Canberra, on 12 July 2018.

Departments: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Tags: data integration, Data management, Statistics

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