UCS Federal Scientist Survey

Union of Concerned Scientists - 2022 Federal Scientists Survey

This 2022 survey of government scientists is part of ongoing research by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to better understand the state of scientific integrity in federal agencies and government scientists’ work environment. The findings are used to inform improvements in government policies and practices so that independent science can fully inform policy decisions and that federal scientists are able to do their jobs effectively. Since 2004, UCS has surveyed thousands of federal scientists across multiple federal agencies under the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. UCS past survey work can be found here: https://www.ucsusa.org/surveys-scientists-federal-agencies.

The survey ideas, questions, and concepts were initiated by researchers at the Union of Concerned Scientists. A significant majority of funding for this study was provided through UCS members and foundation grants. UCS is contracting with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center because of their deep expertise in the technical and operational aspects of sample surveys through research, support, and operational services since 1976.

UCS identified several key agencies where scientific integrity is an important issue. Given resources available, they chose science-based federal agencies influential in setting public policy with a strong science-based mission, that implement science-based policies, or have a history of scientific integrity concerns. For the 2022 survey the following agencies are being surveyed:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

UCS researchers accessed staff names, email addresses, and job titles via publicly available databases or through Freedom of Information Request Act (FOIA) requests. From these staff lists, employees were identified, where possible, as scientific positions or nonscientific positions based on job title, office/department, and the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) occupational series. For the purpose of this survey, scientists were considered as anyone whose job involves a significant level of science, including but not limited to research, operations, modeling, inspection and oversight, and science policy. All survey participants are asked what percentage of their work is related to science.  

Participation in this survey is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not completing the survey. However, accurate survey results depend upon participation by a good cross-section of respondents. Potential survey participants receive a randomized identification number (access code) that is associated with their email address. The purpose of this code number is to limit access to the survey, as much as possible, to only those who are invited with no more than one completed survey per person. As soon as participants submit the online survey, their responses are stored in a separate file with no email address, access code, or any other identifying information. As a result, all submitted responses are completely and permanently anonymous. This will ensure that no one, not even the survey administrator, will be able to associate a particular completed survey to a specific individual. Further, after the survey closes, email addresses will be deleted from the survey software (Qualtrics) so nobody will be able to determine whether a particular survey recipient took the survey. 

If you would prefer not to click on a link in an email, you may instead access a pdf version of the survey here:

Federal Scientist Survey

that can be printed, completed, and mailed to UNH Survey Center.

Note: Participants will need their access code from the email in order to mail in a paper survey. Only surveys that include the participant’s access code will be counted.

This study has received approval from the University of New Hampshire Institutional Review Board (IRB approval # IRB-FY2023-24).

Please visit the Union of Concerned Scientists study page http://www.ucsusa.org/resources/scientistsurvey2022 or contact Anita Desikan or Jacob Carter (ScientistSurvey@ucsusa.org, 202-331-5441) for more information about the study.