Keeping Up Appearances: Maintaining Standards during Strategic Changes in Electronic Reporting
Emma Farrell, Kettie Hewett
Methodology and Data Management Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) plunged into providing electronic reporting options to our survey respondents in 1999, due to the Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) making us legally obliged to do so. Preparing for this requirement and in the decade since, there have been five major shifts affecting the development of these reporting options, with distinct differences in the drivers, goals, funding, preferred software and related constraints, and the organisational structure of the stakeholders involved. Our progress in actually deploying spreadsheets first and then web-based surveys has subsequently been slow, and somewhat fragmented. This paper will describe how our methodological design aims around data quality and respondent engagement have nevertheless remained constant, successfully contributing to our despatched forms being consistently designed and consistently popular with respondents. Challenges around screen design, navigation, edits and other functions, security and related confidentiality requirements, and communication with respondents about electronic reporting will all be covered, in the context of our changing strategic environment.

Keywords: Web reporting; Data collection modes; Methodology; Organisational change

Biography: Emma Farrell is the Director of the Data Collection Methodology Section of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This section has responsibility for supporting questionnaire development, respondent engagement activities and survey quality assurance. This includes advice, research and standards for household and establishment surveys, staff surveys and collection of client feedback. Emma has worked in this area for 12 years, building up the section's influence throughout the organisation. She began at the ABS conducting survey follow-up by telephone, and her life-long campaign is to make collecting high quality data easier for everyone involved.