Frequently Asked Questions

Who is included in the survey?

We have contacted approximately 20,000 federal executives across the federal executive establishment to take the survey. The executives were identified through the use of the Federal Yellow Book. The executives include Senate-confirmed appointees, members of the Senior Executive Service, Schedule C appointees, members of the Senior Foreign Service, career executives directing offices or programs, and other comparable executives.

What kinds of questions does the survey contain?

This survey includes questions about the backgrounds, experiences and policy views of federal executives. It asks federal executives about their jobs, the workforce in their agency and other agencies, organizational culture and performance, and the management environment in their organization.

How did you get my name?

We obtained your name through a search of the Federal Yellow Book. The Federal Yellow Book, published by Leadership Directories, Inc., is a directory of federal executives that includes names, titles, and contact information. If we have contacted you, you have been specifically chosen to take this survey because of your position and experience and will represent thousands of your colleagues when you respond to the survey.

Who is funding this study?

This study is fully funded from academic and not-for-profit funds. The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University is funding the bulk of the study. The study is being conducted in partnership with the Partnership for Public Service, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and Georgetown University. Colleagues from academia, the National Academy of Public Administration, the Senior Executives Association, the Volcker Alliance , Congress, and government agencies offered suggestions for the survey, pre-tested the survey, and provided feedback on its contents.

Is my participation required?

Your participation is completely voluntary. In addition, you may skip over any questions you prefer not to answer. Of course, we hope you will agree to participate. You have been specifically selected to represent the views and experiences of thousands of your colleagues. Your answers will provide important insight into the challenges facing federal agencies and contribute to ongoing public debates and scholarly research on the public service.

Can I complete a paper survey rather than an electronic survey?

Yes. There will be a limited number of paper surveys printed and mailed to respondents. If you would prefer to take a paper survey, please call our toll-free number (833-410-2092) or email us at psrc@princeton.edu. We will be sure to send you a paper copy with a self-addressed stamped envelope when they are ready.

How will my answers be used?

Colleagues from academia, the National Academy of Public Administration, the Senior Executives Association, the Volcker Alliance , Congress, and government agencies offered suggestions for the survey, pre-tested the survey, and provided feedback on its contents. These partners will use anonymized and aggregated results from the survey to inform their ongoing initiatives.

We will share our findings broadly as a way of improving our understanding the public service and how best to confront current and future challenges. The outlet for these results will be press releases, white papers, and academic articles and books. Now more than ever, it is important that evidence-based decision making drive our policy making.

As with the United States Census, survey responses will only be reported in aggregate fashion so that it will be impossible to identify individual survey respondents. Your answers will be combined with those of all other survey respondents and presented in aggregate form as tables and charts.

Who will see my answers?

The purpose of the survey is not to examine the responses of individuals. In fact, the primary data from the survey is de-identified to remove personally identifiable information from responses. As with the United States Census, survey responses will only be reported in aggregate fashion so that it will be impossible to identify individual survey respondents. Your answers will be combined with those of all other survey respondents and presented in aggregate form as tables and charts. For agencies with a small population of federal executives, we will never report agency-level statistics.

The principal investigators may share individually de-identified data with researchers from other institutions for the purposes of scholarly publication. Scholars other than the principal investigators will only have access to a limited data set that is designed to prevent the use of survey responses to infer the identities of survey respondents. Your privacy will be maintained in all published materials resulting from the survey.

How will my information be protected?

The survey data will be stored at the Massive Data Institute (MDI) at Georgetown University, which is an interdisciplinary research center based in the McCourt School of Public Policy. MDI is a Federal Statistical Research Data Center that works with researchers to access restricted-use microdata from several government statistical agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Working with MDI, we have developed a security protocol to protect your information. Individuals who have access to personally identifiable information will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement and will only be able to access the data using a password and custom encryption key. Additionally, a compliance officer will monitor compliance with these protocols. (The security environment is compliant with Level 3 of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act.) For more information on MDI's work on data security and relationships with government statistical agencies, please see: https://mccourt.georgetown.edu/research/the-massive-data-institute/improving-data-driven-policy-making/

How can I get more information about the study?

You can get more information by calling our toll-free number (833-410-2092) or by emailing psrc@princeton.edu