How to Ensure Action on Federal Survey Data

Every year, federal agencies administer hundreds of surveys to both their civilian workforce and the people they serve. Whether a regularly administered survey like the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) or a specialized survey to measure the effectiveness of services provided, they serve a valuable role in identifying areas of concern and providing the road map for executive leadership to address them.

In any organization, however, poor communication, incomplete analysis of survey results, or the lack of a clear plan can mean limited action on survey data. This can be frustrating to stakeholders expecting results, as well as survey respondents who are regularly asked for their input, but don’t see change or discussion based on their feedback. Here are some specific things that can be done to ensure effective action on federal survey data.

Communication is Key

Consistent communication with constituents is important for several reasons. Not only does it clarify the purpose and goal of a survey, but it allows respondents and stakeholders to see the results of the program and better implement change. Before, during, and after administration of a survey, program managers should communicate with either employees in the case of internal surveys or respondents outside the government. 

For employees, it is important to explain the purpose of the survey, showcase previous responses and results, and share how you’ll communicate the results in the future. For surveys of those being served by a program, provide key details about what the survey does for them, and ask for feedback on which action can be taken.

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Developing a strong communication plan can also ensure better response rates and more reliable data. A good communication plan includes: 

  • Setting Email and Reminder Schedules – Create a schedule for when you’ll share details about the survey, both before and after it is complete. Map this out in advance to ensure adherence.
  • Sharing the Goals of the Project – By sharing the goals of the project with respondents and stakeholders, you’ll get a better data set, and more informed analysis of the data once it is prepared.
  • Sharing Action Plans Outlining Post-Survey Steps – An action plan that outlines what will happen after a survey is administered prepares key stakeholders for the data.

With all three of these items in place and a clear communications plan for each of the three populations listed above, it’s easier to drive action upon conclusion of a survey.

Sharing Survey Results

Whether evaluating a survey with limited scope or poring over the most recent FEVS data and its 485,000 responses, survey results offer a wealth of insights when presented in an actionable format. That means:

  • Visualization of Data for High Level Reporting – Visualization draws attention to the most important findings, especially when presented in the executive summary.
  • Balancing Information Depth with Eye Catching Graphics – In-depth details for analysts to review and do their own calculations on is important, while graphics highlight specific ideas/findings.
  • Providing Direct Feedback to Respondents – Respondents want to know that their input matters. Direct feedback ensures they see what you are doing with their responses and encourages them to participate in the future.

Data is more than just a spreadsheet of numerical responses. It is a tool with which decision makers act. Developing easy to interpret reports with clear analysis provides stakeholders with the tools needed to enact effective change.

Key Driver Analysis

For reporting to be truly actionable, it needs to offer multi-layered, contextual summaries of your data. Key driver analysis allows you to drill down to specific outcome-based questions and identify different areas that have an impact on that outcome.

Rather than looking solely at the highest and lowest scores in a satisfaction survey, for example, you can evaluate which questions have the greatest weight in determining the outcome of the survey participant’s responses. Analysis on a question-by-question basis helps identify where to focus efforts.

Learn more about how EconSys has helped federal agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer surveys that are actionable for key stakeholders and executives.