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Office of Research & Development

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Conducting Staff Surveys

Organizational Assessment Committee (OAC) Review and National Union Notification

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 2020: Investigators may not distribute surveys to VA employees during the following period:

  • May 11 - July 10

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 documents together in one .pdf (please no Adobe “Portfolios”):
  • A copy of the survey
  • A list of the selected sites or of sites that are considered to receive the survey
  • A brief description of the study (including what is being studied and what types of VA personnel will be studied)
  • What participation entails. (e.g. how much time is required for subjects to participate). Please note that the survey must be voluntary, anonymous, and confidential. Please state this explicitly.
  • Types of data being collected (e.g., survey, interview guide)
  • Study team contact information

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 contact and request additional information. The LMR representative will notify all applicable unions and then notify the study team contact this has occurred.

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 programs.

OMB Requirements

Surveys 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.

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.