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Requirements for Surveys & Interviews (Research Studies & Quality Improvement Projects)

Organizational Assessment Committee (OAC) Review

The OAC serves as the VHA clearing house for employee surveys, providing advice and assistance to requesting organizations. The goal is to manage the survey burden on VA employees through oversight of the total number and 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 that 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

  • 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 2021: Investigators may not distribute surveys to VA employees during the following period:

  • May 17 - July 16

National Union Notification

Prior union notification is required for all research 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 union bargaining unit employees.

  • If your study will distribute 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 your study’s surveys.
  • If your study will distribute surveys or interviews involving VA personnel beyond the primary facility’s level but still within the VISN level, please contact your VISN HR department and arrange with them to have all necessary unions notified of your study’s surveys.
  • If your study will distribute surveys or interviews involving VA personnel across more than one VISN, please send Emily Evans at the following information together in a single pdf file (please no Adobe “Portfolios”):
    • Brief description of the study, including the number and type of VA personnel from whom data will be collected
    • Types of data being collected (e.g., survey, interview guide)
    • Anticipated timeline for data collection (start and end dates)
    • What participation entails (e.g., time required for individuals to participate)
    • List of the sites from which VA personnel will be recruited
    • Study team contact information
    • A copy of the final version(s) of all survey(s) and/or interview instrument(s)
      • Each data collection instrument must include an explicit statement that participation is voluntary, anonymous, and confidential.
      • 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 get in touch with the study team and request additional information. The LMR representative will notify all applicable unions and then notify the study team after the process is completed.

Approved Platforms for Web-Surveys

The following survey platforms are a few which have been approved by VA's Technical Reference Manual (TRM) for use with restrictions:

  • Survey Tracker Plus
  • Select Survey
  • RedCap
  • Inquisite Survey

For additional options which have VA TRM approval, follow this link and type "survey" into the search field:

Please Note: Researchers should contact their local ISO for information on approved survey platforms.

OMB Requirements

Surveys and interviews which collect 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.

Questions about the R&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.