The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has embarked on what could be its biggest information infrastructure refresh in thirty years with the planning stages of the Information Management Transformation Program having begun in earnest over the last three months.
Intermedium’s latest Market Overview Report ranks the ABS as 28th on a list of Federal agencies with the highest level of ICT procurement. In 2009-10 Intermedium recorded a total of 163 ICT contracts entered into by the ABS, at a total value of $21.7 million.
The Information Management Transformation Program (IMTP) was introduced in February 2010 in response to the ABS’s decision to agree on a Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) and Data Documentation Initiative (DDI).
The adoption of these metadata standards, which will steer the ABS’s future developments in the field of statistical information management, will be facilitated by modernised ICT systems at the agency.
The Program will upgrade the Bureau’s information management systems to support its data management and business process standardisation.
The Bureau is currently undertaking the initial planning and cost analysis stages of the project and six contracts to the value of $370,500 have already been published on AusTender since December 2010, including:
- A $70,000 contract with Value Creation Group for the IMTP Senior Executive Workshops, published 8 December 2010;
- A $66,000 contract with PriceWaterhouseCoopers for Review of Costing of the IMTP, published 25 February 2011;
- A $30,000 contract with Moreno Collegium for Human Centred Learning and Development Pty Ltd for IMTP Change Facilitation Training, published 1 March 2011
- A $79,500 contract with LECG Ltd for the IMTP Business Case Costing, published 1 March 2011;
- A $50,000 contract with Oakton Services for Development of the ICT Components of the Business Case for IMTP, published 2 March 2011; and
- A $75,000 contract with Fianian Pty Ltd for Advice and Written Documentation Regarding Communication Strategies for the IMTP, published 2 March 2011.
While a spokesperson for the ABS has told Intermedium that the “overall scope and cost of the program is still being determined” and that the feasibility of a larger transformation project is being assessed, the ABS’s Annual Report for 2009-10, says the IMTP “has the potential to be the most significant transformation of information infrastructure in over 30 years”.
The spokesperson went on to say that the IMTP currently involves “research and experimentation in the use of emerging international standards for describing and exchanging statistical data in several existing projects”.
“ABS is investigating the opportunities that the use of these standards can open up for a statistical management agency like ABS.
“The Program intent is that users of official statistical information will benefit from better managed more consistent statistical data being available,” she said.
An international focus is also central to the Program, with the ABS collaborating with several international statistics agencies and organisations from Sweden, Norway, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the development of new methods and systems to support statistical production and use.
Technological innovation has long been a feature of the ABS, with the Bureau one of the first government agencies to adopt mainframe computers in the early days of Federal government ICT. Now, forty years later, innovation may once again be on the agenda.
The ABS aims to provide high quality, objective and response national statistical services to the government and community and employs approximately 3000 people.
As well as the development of the IMPT, ABS staff will be busy preparing for the 16th Census of Population and Housing with will be conducted nationwide on 9 August 2011.