Office of the Chief Information Officer &
High Performance Computing and Communications

The Paperwork Reduction Act and Customer Surveys - NOAA 0648-0342, expires 6/30/2021

As stated elsewhere in the NOAA PRA guidance, the normal clearance process for information collections takes from 2-5 months, depending upon whether a proposed rule is involved. In an effort to reduce this delay for certain types of customer surveys, NOAA has obtained a "generic clearance" for them. The clearance makes it possible to get approval, within a few weeks - though it may take longer depending on OMB workload - for eligible surveys. You cannot use any of the "cleared questions" linked below without going through this fast-track clearance process.

The questions in the generic clearance fall into two categories, quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative questions ask the respondents to rank services or products on some number scale. A number of NOAA offices have requested approval for including quantitative-type questions on their surveys without planning to conduct a survey that follows a statistical sampling plan.

The NOAA PRA Clearance Officer can help you clarify who your customer base is, and if it is a group of known entities or not. If it is, we can work on a sampling plan, including the option of surveying all customers. If there is not a clearly known customer base, the results of the quantitative questions can not therefore be validly extroplated to the overall customer population. In such a case, it is important not to claim representational results, but to explain the value to the program of obtaining feedback, representational or not.

The Surveys:

  • There are two sets of cleared questions, one with quantitative (ranking) questions about satisfaction levels, and one with questions about uses of products, suggested formats, and other issues.
  • You do not have to use either questionnaire in its entirety - you can select only those questions that fit your needs.
  • You can adapt the questions to fit your particular program needs as long as the basic objectives of the surveying effort are consistent with the approved questionnaires. You can consult with the NOAA Clearance Officer about how much you can vary from the examples.
  • OMB does not regard Web-based surveys as an acceptable method of sampling and generalizing to a broad population, if there is not a clear set of targeted respondents.

How You Use the Generic Clearance:

  • Select and adapt the survey questions to fit your needs.
  • Provide a copy of the draft survey to the NOAA Clearance Officer for review. The survey must provide certain PRA information to respondents. See the last page of the cleared questions for an example. On Web surveys, only the OMB number and expiration date have to appear on the survey screen; the rest of the information can be provided via a link.
  • If told by the NOAA Clearance Officer that the survey does properly fit under the generic clearance, you need to prepare complete a clearance form. Please fill out the following fields: NOAA subagency (e.g. your Line Office), the title of your survey, an estimated annual number of respondents, the estimated hours or minutes per response, a contact point for questions about the survey, and the signature of a program official. Leave the other fields blank.
  • Then you complete the Supplemental Questiona and Part B (Statistical analysis), the same Part B that is in a regular supporting statement. Since July 2005, with that approval of the renewal request for 0648-0342, Part B now also needs to be completed even if you are not going to perform statistical analysis on your data. Part B questions overlap with the questions in the clearance request – covering more than statistical analysis per se -  so some copying and pasting can be done, but you need to read each question carefully to be sure you are answering all parts of it. See Supporting Statement Instructions for information on responding to the Part B questions. ALL survey requests now need to include answers to Part B, regardless of actual use of statistical analysis.
  • Here is a Word version of the Supplemental and Part B questions.
  • Once the clearance request, including the two sets of questions, is completed, then send your request to the NOAA Clearance Officer, who reviews and sends it to DOC to forward to OMB.
  • OMB will take a few weeks and depending on the workload, up to a couple of months, to approve or reject the request.

Please note - you cannot just use the questions from the generic surveys without obtaining OMB approval through the review process.