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Is a New FEVS Survey on the Horizon?
Friday, February 26, 2016
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To modernize the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, OPM is proposing a reduction in the number of specifically prescribed questions. 

On the Federal Register, OPM explains that a critical review of the FEVS questions currently in regulation was conducted by a cross-governmental agency task force convened by OPM in 2011. The cross-governmental agency task force, made up of survey experts from several agencies, including ODNI, DOD, OMB, DOI, and the VA, reviewed the FEVS  through a stepwise process of data analysis, stakeholder engagement,  solicitation of expert opinion and input from OMB and recommended a  concise subset of questions critical to the intent of the original  statute. 

This review was followed by a second analysis in 2015 by university researchers; these results were published in the Public Administration Review (PAR). The PAR article, which reviewed more than 40 research articles based on FEVS data, indicates the validity of the FEVS would largely benefit from a revision to include stronger, relevant and unambiguous questions as well as questions that capture a single concept. The study also addressed the notion that in a revision of survey questions, the selection of relevant concepts and proper instrumentation should be grounded in a thorough review of the literature and sound theoretical reasoning. 

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These reviews have led to the formation of a group of OPM psychologists tasked with addressing these recommendations to further advance the survey program. The group of OPM psychologists analyzed and confirmed the external recommendations. They have proposed a final set of 11 questions that were selected based on adherence to and measurement of the areas in statute. 

“The identified questions exhibit appropriate properties as metrics as reflected through psychometric analysis; and are clear and unambiguous in nature,” states OPM in the proposed rule. 

The 11 proposed survey questions are:   

  1. My work unit has the job-relevant skills necessary to accomplish organizational goals.
  2. Managers communicate the goals of the organization.
  3. How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work?
  4. How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what's going on in your organization?
  5. The people I work with cooperate to get the job done.
  6. My workload is reasonable.
  7. In my work unit, differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way.
  8. How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job?
  9. I am given a real opportunity to improve my skills in my organization.
  10. My talents are used well in the workplace.
  11. I know how my work relates to the agency's goals. 

The FEVS will not be reduced to just these 11 questions, however. Agencies will still be able to include agency-specific queries in the individual surveys. 
The proposed rule is open to the public for comments, which are due by April 8. OPM will address specific item concerns at the conclusion of the open comment period.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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