Information Collection

Collecting the opinions and experiences of the American public provides vital data to inform National Park Service (NPS) planning and management. Capturing this information in a systematic way, via survey, interview, focus group, etc., is the essence of social science research within the NPS and is governed by the parameters of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The PRA's purpose is ensuring the burden placed on the public through an Information Collection Request (ICR) is justified by the utility of the information being collected.

Any federal government ICR that asks 10 or more people the same set of questions requires review and approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). For NPS-sponsored or funded social science ICRs, the Social Science Branch provides technical feedback and coordinates the OMB review process.

Depending on the nature of the social science ICR, one of the following review processes applies:

Crowds at Yellowstone National Park NPS Photo/Neal Herbert

NPS Programmatic Clearance Process

Limited to applied research that will be used to answer specific questions that have direct application to NPS visitor use or management.

visitors at National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington D.C.

Regular Clearance Process

Allows for information collection requests not within the scope of the current Generic Clearance Processes (Programmatic, Fast-Track, etc).

visitors at Yellowstone National Park NPS Photo/Neal Herbert

Fast-Track Qualitative Feedback

Limited to information that provides useful insights on perceptions and opinions, but are not statistical surveys.

Joshua Tree National Park NPS Photo/Kurt Moses

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Typically customer satisfaction surveys, such as short questionnaires and comment cards.

Important Notes:

  • In addition to OMB approval, all principal investigator's conducting surveys within units of the National Park System must apply for a Research Permit.
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval does not supersede the requirements of the PRA.
  • Please contact the Information Collection Review Coordinator before submitting your request.
  • Please DO NOT submit any materials in PDF format. All documents should be submitted as Word documents.
Volunteer answering questions at the Visitor Center in Everglades National Park
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Read more on our FAQ page or contact the Information Collection Review Coordinator for more information.

Last updated: August 3, 2022

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