The online newsletter Crikey carried a report in its 8 September edition, claiming that senior ABS officials had "warned staff of a 'crisis' over the rate of return of censuses and demanded collectors increase the level of harassment of Australians, including those who can furnish evidence they have already lodged it".
The newsletter said sources within the ABS had said that census field officers had been told on Wednesday that they were now required to make return visits to houses where they had been told that forms had been submitted.
On Monday, the same field officers had been told in writing that they did not need to make a return visit to any house where they were advised that the census form had been submitted.
An ABS spokesperson told iTWire that the bureau often made procedural changes to its census field operations. "Adaptive procedures are common practice in the census, and an important part of delivering Australia’s largest logistical exercise and getting a full and accurate count of the population," the spokesperson said.
Census field Officers were visiting households that had not yet completed the census, and would continue to do so to remind people to complete the form. "Reminder visits have been a part of every Census – this is no different in 2016," the spokesperson added.
"During an operation the size of the census, there will inevitably be a small number of households that have already completed their census who receive reminder materials or are visited by a census field officer.
"The most common reason these visits occur is the delay between posting a completed paper form and that form being received at our secure data capture centre. This can take up to 10 working days, but is usually much quicker. There can be other reasons which the ABS investigates."
The spokesperson said that the ABS had now received more than 7.5 million household forms which comprised more than 80% of Australia's households. This would mean that there are a little more than 8.75 million households in the country.
Parliament has announced an inquiry into the census bungle and is expected to report back by 24 November.