Surveys are a major source of data for many organizations. Surveys deal with a multitude of subjects, for example, demographic, economic, psychological, sociological, and medical topics, spanning a multiplicity of diverse concerns. Included are surveys on the effectiveness of employee programs, the impact of organizational activities, and problems for which employee groups are currently or may in the future be at risk or in need of development in some form. Although these topics are highly diverse, the issues in the use and conduct of surveys to obtain data on them are far more amenable to systematic treatment with a unified focus.

It is not possible within any given presentation of this nature to cover all the issues related to the use and conduct of surveys. The following questions are some that need to be answered: What is the problem on which the study should focus? Should a survey be conducted as opposed to the use of some alternative research strategy or data collection approach? If a survey is to be used, should it be done totally in-house, totally under an interagency agreement, totally under a contract, or using some combination of these three approaches? The Subcommittee focused on what should be done after the decision is made to contract out the survey, and not on the factors involved in selecting this option as against an interagency agreement or in-house conduct of the survey.

This report is intended for organizations which may utilize surveys. The report tries to draw attention to the issues that need to be considered, how to use or obtain the necessary expertise in preparing for and using the contract mechanism, how to prepare specifications and carry out contractor selection, and how to maximize contractor performance.