Requirements for Surveys & Interviews (Projects Conducted for Research & Operational Purposes)
The chart below summarizes the general requirements for surveys and interviews conducted within the VA system. Please see the relevant section(s) for additional detail. (Section IV provides information regarding approved platforms for web-based surveys.)
>10,000 participants or >20 sites
Surveys & Interviews
Local, VISN, or National (not based on # of employees)
Surveys & Interviews
I. Organizational Assessment Committee (OAC) Review
The OAC serves as the VHA clearing house for employee surveys and provides advice and assistance to requesting organizations. The OAC’s goal is to manage the survey burden on VA employees through oversight of the total number, overall frequency, and quality of employee surveys administered.
OAC is responsible for reviewing and approving all research and operations surveys that involve VA employees and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Any survey administered to more than 10,000 VHA employees.
- Any survey administered to VHA employees in more than 20 organizations.
To obtain OAC review, the following information should be sent to VHAOASC@va.gov:
- Purpose of survey
- Intended audience and number invited to participate
- Modality of survey administration
- Proposed administration dates
- Copy of survey
- Plan to disseminate survey to your target respondent group
- Anticipated use of results
- Have you piloted the survey with the potential respondent group? (Y/N)
- Would you like assistance developing your survey? (Y/N)
- Contact person
- Project director
Please Note: OAC has no jurisdiction over surveys to Veterans. OAC only has authority to review surveys (paper and pencil or web based) and not interviews.
Blackout dates for 2024
Investigators may not distribute surveys to VA employees during the following period:
II. Union Notification (Local, VISN, National)
Prior union notification is required for all research and operational projects involving VA personnel (e.g., interviews, surveys, or other data collection methods) when asking about conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees. It is important to note that some clinicians, including physicians, are bargaining unit employees.
- Local Union Notification. If your study will administer surveys or interviews involving VA personnel entirely at the primary facility’s level, please contact your local HR department and arrange with them to have all necessary unions notified of the surveys/interviews.
- VISN Union Notification. If your study will administer surveys or interviews involving VA personnel beyond the primary facility’s level but still within a single VISN, please contact your VISN HR department and arrange with them to have all necessary unions notified of the surveys/interviews.
- National Union Notification If your study will administer surveys or interviews involving VA personnel across more than one VISN, please send firstname.lastname@example.org the following information in a single pdf file (please no Adobe “Portfolios”):
- Overview. Brief description of the study and objectives.
- Data Collection. Describe the intended data collection (survey, interview); number and type of VA personnel from whom data will be collected; and anticipated timeline for data collection (start and end dates). Note: Do not send in requests for national union notification more than 3 months prior to the intended start date of the data collection.
- Finalized list of sites from which VA personnel will be recruited
- Study Team Contact Information
- Final version of the survey/interview guide. The unions require an explicit statement at the top of each survey/interview guide regarding the voluntary, anonymous, and confidential nature of the data collection. If anonymity is not possible, include a statement that (1) explains why participation cannot be anonymous; (2) explains what steps will be taken to protect the identity of the respondents; and (3) follow-up is voluntary. For example, “Anonymity will be protected in that the identity of the respondents will be kept confidential by the research team and identifiers will be kept separate from the coded data. Results will be reported in aggregate and will therefore be anonymous in such reports.”
ORD staff will forward these documents to VA’s Office of Labor Management Relations (LMR) to notify the national unions. This process may take several weeks beyond the 30 days that the unions have for their review. An LMR representative may contact the study team and request additional information. The LMR representative will notify all applicable unions, and ORD staff will notify the study team after the process is completed
III. OMB Requirements
Surveys and interviews collecting information from more than 9 individuals, not including VA employees, may require OMB approval. Contact your Central Office service representative for more information if you think this may apply to your survey or interview.
Note: For OMB related questions, please contact email@example.com.
IV. Approved Platforms for Web-Surveys
The survey platforms listed below have been approved by VA's Technical Reference Manual (TRM) for use with restrictions.
- Survey Tracker Plus
- Select Survey
- Inquisite Survey
For additional options which have VA TRM approval, follow this link and type "survey" into the search field: http://trm.oit.va.gov/SearchPage.aspx. NOTE: Researchers should contact their local ISO for information on approved survey platforms.