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Human Capital: Quality of DOD Status of Forces Surveys Could Be Improved by Performing Nonresponse Analysis of the Results

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The Defense Manpower Data Center DMDC conducts a series of Web-based surveys called Status of Forces surveys, which help enable decision makers within the Department of Defense DOD to 1 evaluate existing programs and policies, 2 establish baselines before implementing new programs and policies, and 3 monitor the progress of programs and policies and their effects on the total force. In recent years, we have discussed the results of these surveys in several of our reports. While we have generally found the survey results to be sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our reporting, several of our reports have discussed low response rates and the potential for bias in the survey results. Nonresponse analysis is an established practice in survey research that helps determine whether nonresponse bias i.e., survey results that do not accurately reflect the population might occur due to under- or overrepresentation of some respondents views on survey questions. When nonresponse analysis is performed, survey researchers can use the results to select and adjust the statistical weighting techniques they use that help ensure that survey results accurately reflect the survey population. Because we have noted, in reports referring to the Status of Forces surveys, the potential for bias and because of DMDCs role in supporting DOD decision making, we initiated this review under the Comptroller Generals statutory authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Specifically, our objective was to determine the extent to which DMDC performs nonresponse analysis of the results of its Status of Forces surveys to determine whether reported results of respondents views might be under- or overrepresented.

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  • Information Science

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