Surveys

Surveys can be a useful way to gauge the opinions of your readers and learn more about your website's audiences, but you'll often need approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to run one.

Developing a Survey

First, your team should decide what questions you will ask and how and where you will promote your survey. If you would like to see examples of other EERE surveys, contact the Web Usability Coordinator.

Personally Identifiable Information

Before you create your questions, you should know what Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is and whether your survey is asking for it. You can collect low-risk PII, such as a respondent's email, phone number, or address, but you should only collect PII that you know you need for analysis. Any PII you collect must be stored on a DOE server that has been certified and accredited.

See the Personally Identifiable Information page for more information.

Getting Approval for your Survey

You'll need to get approval from two different organizations:

  • The Web Governance Team (WGT). The WGT will give you its initial approval for the project. They'll ask questions about your questions, any PII you will be gathering, and will confirm whether you need OMB approval or not.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB has a separate review and approval process. Any survey that polls more than 10 members of the general public will need to get OMB approval.

The Web Governance Team

Your first review will be with the WGT. When you schedule your meeting with the WGT, you'll need to submit two forms:

Send these to the Web Governance Team Facilitator. During your WGT meeting, you'll be asked to explain your project, your questions, and the amount of PII you'll be gathering.

If your survey does not require OMB approval, you can code your survey after this meeting.

The Office of Management and Budget

OMB approval is necessary for surveys or usability tests that collect information from 10 or more respondents from the general public. All publicly available online surveys require OMB approval.

OMB approval is not required if surveys are conducted internally and all of the respondents are federal staff. However, OMB does not consider government contractors to be federal employees, so any survey that collects information from more than 10 contractors will also need OMB approval.

If you don't know whether your survey requires OMB approval, contact the Web Usability Coordinator before you begin work on your survey.

Most EERE surveys qualify for OMB's "fast track" approval process. See "The Fast Track System" section on the Office of Management and Budget page to learn how to apply for OMB approval.

Building Your Survey

Once you have gotten approval from the WGT and OMB (if needed) you can code your survey.

There are a variety of survey collection tools available. EERE typically uses Survey Gizmo, which collects and aggregates the data for you automatically. It also offers features for analyzing the data, including the ability to run custom reports, cross reference questions, create charts, and combine data sets. Learn more about Survey Gizmo's features and how to use it on your site.

Contact the Web Usability Coordinator if you'd like to have your survey built in Survey Gizmo. You will be provided access to the tool to edit your questions and run reports after the data is collected.

Additional Resources

See the DigitalGov: PRA Fast Track Process Web page for more information about surveys and OMB approval.