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Thank you for reaching out to us prior to starting a survey.  The Air Force Survey Office (AFSO) has purview over attitude and opinion surveys directed to AF personnel only.  Prior to a survey being sent to AF personnel, a Survey Control Number (SCN) is required.  Air University has an exemption to conduct surveys related to its programs and institutional effectiveness.  To obtain this number, an official request (a copy of the survey formatted in MS Word or PDF (all other formats will be returned) must be submitted on the Air University SharePoint site:  https://cs2.eis.af.mil/sites/12495/research/Lists/Survey%20Control%20Log/AllItems.aspx

In both instances below, the determination of whether a survey will be approved is based on regulatory factors and on factors such as whether the survey duplicates one where the data are already available and whether the results from the survey questions are actionable and mission-related.  In addition, depending on the questions, an AF Institutional Review Board (IRB) may be required; Air University has an AFRL IRB Team Member who will determine if the survey should be sent for an Human Research Protection Office (HRPO)/IRB review/approval. 

In addition, contract employees (employees that are paid by a third party, not the Air Force) and family members may not be surveyed, with the exception that family members may be surveyed about benefits (example: Exceptional Family Member Program participation, health services). 

Finally, the supporting sponsor must have functional authority over every subject each survey question addresses. Questions within specific areas (deemed of a sensitive nature) may require Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of People Analytics (OPA) review, and if so, the requester will be directed to obtain a waiver before we will complete our review. 

Please review the types of survey requests received and the approval process for each:

image of AU Survey Control Diagram

A:  A survey conducted by Air University personnel and administered to its faculty, staff, and students for Air University’s Program Effectiveness (AFMAN 36-2664, Personnel Assessment Program, Chapter 7, 7.1):

1) Surveys must be uploaded to the Air University SharePoint site, as indicated above, to obtain an AUSCN approval number.
2) Surveys must meet all other requirements of AFMAN 36-2664, Personnel Assessment Program, Chapter 5.
3) Surveys must include and prominently display the required DODI 8910.01. 5.b. Privacy Act Statement or Privacy Act Advisory when applicable.
4) Surveys will be approved for two-years effective 1 October 2020.
5) Any changes made to a survey instrument or the population surveyed after an AUSCN has been granted must be resubmitted through the review process.

B:  An entity outside of Air University (Air Force, civilian higher education, or private) has requested Air University’s population serve as a research population on its behalf:

1) Refer the requestor to Air University’s HRPP POC (see Human Subjects Research Link) for extramural research consideration.
2) Additional steps may be required based on the request.

C:  A survey conducted by Air University personnel and administered to its faculty, staff, and students that is not for Air University’s Program Effectiveness and/or survey administration extends to Air Force Personnel beyond Air University:

The survey must be submitted to AFSO for review. AFSO has two categories survey administration fall under – Internal and External.

1)  Internal – the customer submits the official package and requests that AFSO administer/host the survey.  There is no cost for this service; however, it is dependent on AFSO’s workload at the time a request is received.  The AFSO Branch Chief will determine whether AFSO can commit to the additional workload within 5 business days of receiving an official request.

If AFSO is able to host the survey, the project is assigned to an Operations Research Analyst (ORA) and Personnel Research Psychologist (PRP).  This team will work closely with you the customer in the development of the survey instrument. 

The timeline to conduct an internal survey is anywhere from 2-4 months and is dependent on multiple factors, such as the complexity of the questions/population and how quickly the customer responds to requests from the AFSO team for additional information or action. 

 2)  External – the customer requests approval to conduct a survey of AF personnel and will obtain their own hosting site, such as Max.gov, SharePoint, Survey Monkey, Survey Gizmo, MilSuite, Surveyintellink.gov etc.  The customer is responsible for all costs.  When an official request is received, which includes the completed AF Form 4453 and a copy of the survey (formatted in MS Word), the project is assigned to a team who reviews the survey instrument and provides feedback.  The team has 20 business days to complete their review.  Their combined reviews are returned to the customer who then incorporates the findings and returns a final version to the AFSO workflow box.  Assuming the updates are approved, AFSO will then issue an approval letter with the SCN. 

All surveys require a sponsor before the AFSO will approve them.  The following information clarifies sponsorship:

The sponsor is that individual who has functional authority over both the population surveyed and every question asked on the survey and who is able to make, change or eliminate programs, policies, and/or procedures. All questions must be within the sponsor’s lane of authority.  There are those instances when more than one sponsor signature may be required.

The primary intent of a “three-letter” functional authority sponsorship is to ensure there is an appropriate level of authority for surveys conducted across organizational boundaries within the Air Force.  For example, the ACC Commander has no authority to survey crew chiefs assigned to AFMC.  SAF/HAF functional authorities, however, exercise oversight of programs governing all crew chiefs within the Air Force.  As a result, SAF/HAF functional authority signature is necessary to ensure an appropriate level of oversight.

D:  A survey crosses branches of service, involves more than one government agency, or is going out to members of the public:

If a survey crosses branches of service, involves more than one government agency, or is going out to members of the public, which includes military family members and spouses of military members (unless the survey pertains to benefits) the approving authority is Washington Headquarters Services (WHS).  AFSO will refer you to this agency for approval of the request.  The link to their website is https://www.esd.whs.mil/Directives/collections_pub/ and their workflow box is whs.mc-alex.esd.mbx.dd-dod-information-collections@mail.mil.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or e-mail me and I’ll be happy to assist.

All Air University correspondence should be directed to the Air University Survey Control POC:  Dr. Jendia Grissett, jendia.grissett@us.af.mil.

Air University Academic Affairs
55 LeMay Plaza South
Maxwell AFB, AL  36112-6335

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