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ABS Issues Draft NFP Information Development Plan

1 September 2010 at 2:27 pm
Staff Reporter
The ABS has released a draft Information Development Plan into the statistical needs and priorities of the Not for Profit sector.

Staff Reporter | 1 September 2010 at 2:27 pm


ABS Issues Draft NFP Information Development Plan
1 September 2010 at 2:27 pm

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has release a draft Information Development Plan into the statistical needs and priorities for the Not for Profit sector as a result of recommendations by the Productivity Commission.

The Draft Information Development Plan (IDP) for the Non-Profit Institutions sector has been prepared in response to a recommendation in the Productivity Commission Research Report “Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector”, 2010.

This draft document has been released to help guide discussion of the statistical needs and priorities for the sector, and also to draw attention to the statistical potential of information held in government administrative systems.

The Productivity Commission made several recommendations on the collection and dissemination of data relevant to the Not for Profit sector, and also recommended that the ABS was best suited to draw up an information development plan that addressed statistical information needs for the sector, a measurement framework, the availability of statistical information, and avenues of future data development.

The ABS says the comprehensive development and consultation for an IDP is a major undertaking.

It says the ABS does not have the funding to fully develop some aspects of a measurement framework for the sector, particularly in the areas of social indicators and micro–data information.

As well it says a substantial amount of further research and consultation would be required to do this, because best practice regarding such frameworks is in its infancy.

The ABS concludes that although the Draft IDP indicates that more work is required in some areas, the work has advanced sufficiently for some key data needs to emerge.

The Director of the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of technology, (QUT), Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, has welcomed the draft Information Development Plan (IDP).

He says among the issues the IDP should address are:

  • the appropriate frequency for the publication of the satellite account on the sector
  • the scope to develop administrative and other longitudinal data sets to support the analysis of net impacts of sector activities
  • the collation of the information from these and other data sources to provide a more detailed assessment of the contribution of the not-for-profit sector over time ; and finally
  • the feasibility of obtaining accurate estimates of the number of unincorporated not-for-profit organisations in a cost-effective manner.

Prof McGregor-Lowndes says a better range of information, particularly for smaller organisations will be needed in the satellite accounts.

As well, he says there is a need to better understand the dimension and characteristics of giving, and the factors affecting decisions to give in any information development plan.

In a regular QUT podcast, Prof McGregor-Lowndes says government agencies that have service contract and other financial and regulatory relationships with NFPs should give consideration as to how to improve the availability of confidentialised micro–data information for research use, and more generally improve information sharing and access to research results consistent with the Australian Government’s National Compact and similar state and territory initiatives.

He says they should also give consideration to how to improve and streamline administrative processes around financial reporting and program evaluation, and how to optimise the collection and use of information, including for statistical purposes, the principle which the Productivity Commission recommended – collect once, use often, – is appropriate.

Comments can be made on the Draft and should be addressed to Derick Cullen (, Director, Macroeconomics Research Section Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Draft can be downloaded at

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