U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EERE Communication Standards & Guidelines


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

When designing your survey, you should know where it will be hosted, approximately how many people you would like to take it, and what your questions will be.

If you are conducting a survey to learn more about your website users, their top tasks, and how they feel about your website, please contact the Web Usability Coordinator for a list of sample questions that have received OMB approval in the past.

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. 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

All surveys need approval from the Web Governance Team. Some will need to apply to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval.

The Web Governance Team

All surveys should be submitted to the Web Governance Team (WGT). Schedule a meeting once your questions are complete and before you code your survey.

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 among federal staff. Government contractors are not considered federal staff members.

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

The Office of Management and Budget page explains the process of applying for approval from OMB.

Building Your Survey

Once you have gotten approval to run your survey, you will need to build it.

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

More information is available about surveys and OMB approval on other federal sites: