Project Overview


The 2020 Survey on the Future of Government Service asks federal executives about their backgrounds, experiences and views. The results from the survey will provide important insight into the challenges facing federal agencies and contribute to ongoing efforts to strengthen America’s public service and the operations and management of the federal government.

Such information is more important now than ever. The ongoing pandemic and economic crisis have focused public attention on the key role the federal government plays in times of crisis. These crises come after a long period of neglect characterized by damaging government shutdowns and public disparagement. Public opinion polls document declining levels of trust in government.

Effective execution of public responsibilities and attracting the most talented among us to public service are paramount concerns. Any decisions about how to strengthen the operations and performance of the federal government must be evidence-based. There is simply no better source of data about how to achieve these objectives than our current federal executives.

Survey Team

The survey is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University, and Georgetown University. The Princeton Survey Research Center will administer the survey under the supervision of Drs. Mark D. Richardson (Georgetown University), Nolan M. McCarty (Princeton University) and David E. Lewis (Vanderbilt University). Dr. Edward Freeland and Naila Rahman direct the day-to-day operations of the Princeton Survey Research Center.


We have contacted approximately 20,000 federal executives using information from the online version of the Federal Yellow Book. This sample includes Senate-confirmed appointees, non-career and career members of the Senior Executive Service, members of the Senior Foreign Service, Schedule C appointees, senior career professionals running agencies and programs, and other comparable managers.


The survey is scheduled to begin June, 2020 and will include an electronic survey and a paper survey for those who do not prefer the electronic interface.