Go to top of page

Capability review: Australian Bureau of Statistics

In 2011, the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) commenced a program of systematic reviews to assess capability in key agencies and identify opportunities to raise the institutional capability of the service as a whole.

The methodology used by the APSC to conduct these reviews has been gradually refined to more closely reflect the Australian context in which the review program is being conducted.

On the occasion of this review, I would like to thank the Australian Bureau of Statistics for its professional and enthusiastic participation. All staff who participated in interviews and workshops were generous with their time and displayed great passion for their work.

I would also like to thank Mr Tony Cole AO, the chair of the review team, other senior members of the team, Mr John Ombler and Ms Carmel McGregor PSM, and my own team from the APSC who supported and advised them. Once again, this review has demonstrated the advantages of bringing together a team of this calibre.

Stephen Sedgwick AO

Australian Public Service Commissioner


Retirement of the Australian Statistician

On 5 November 2013, the Australian Statistician and head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Mr Brian Pink, formally notified the Governor-General that he would be retiring on 12 January 2014 having served to the end of his seven-year appointment. Mr Pink was the 14th Australian Statistician. At the time of drafting this report, his successor was yet to be appointed.

1 About the review

A capability review is a forward-looking, whole-of-agency review that assesses an agency’s ability to meet future objectives and challenges. It is conducted in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s statutory function to review any matter relating to the Australian Public Service under paragraph 41(2)(j) of the Public Service Act 1999.

This review focuses on leadership, strategy and delivery capabilities in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It highlights the agency’s internal management strengths and improvement opportunities using the model set out in Figure 1. A set of 39 questions is used to guide the assessment of each of the 10 elements of the model covered by this report.

Capability reviews are designed to be relatively short and take a high-level view of the operations of the agency. They focus primarily on its senior leadership, but are informed by the views of staff who attend a series of workshops.

External stakeholders are also interviewed, including relevant ministers, private sector companies, state organisations, peak bodies, interest groups, clients and central agencies.

In this review over 200 documents were reviewed, there were seven workshops and eight roundtable sessions with staff, and 112 interviews were conducted.

Figure 1: Model of capability

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018