Submission and Review Process and Programmatic Clearance Workflow

Programmatic Clearance Workflow

A workflow chart that is a visual representation of the six steps in Programmatic Clearance Process described above.

*NPS ICRC = NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator, PI = Principal Investigator, ICR = Information Collection Request

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for initiating a request for programmatic review and providing a complete and accurate package of review materials. PIs may be park resource management specialists, NPS interpretive designers, agency scientists, researchers from universities, and individuals from organizations cooperating with the NPS, among others. The submission must include:
  • A completed programmatic review form,
  • A complete copy of the proposed data-collection instrument (e.g., survey or interview guide), and
  • Other supporting materials (such as cover letters, introductory scripts, follow-up letters, and survey logs).
An example of the programmatic review form is available on the Programmatic Clearance Process homepage. The request for programmatic review and submission of a complete and accurate package must be made at least 60 calendar days prior to the first day the PI wishes to administer the instrument to the public.

The NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator (ICRC) is responsible for reviewing each request to ensure relevance, merit, soundness, and statistical validity. The review will also include an administrative component that will ensure that information collection procedures appropriately represent the needs of the National Park Service and that intended uses of the data will support our missions and goals.

All collections under this clearance will:
  • be designed and deployed based upon acceptable statistical practices and sampling methodologies
  • be used to gather consistent and valid data that are representative of the target populations
  • account for non-response bias
  • achieve response rates at or above levels needed to obtain statistically useful results
All collections under this clearance must fully describe the survey methodology. The description must be specific and describe each of the following:
  • respondent universe
  • sampling methods
  • expected response rate and confidence,
  • strategy for dealing with potential non-response bias
  • any pre-testing and peer review
  • an estimate of the respondent burden
  • reporting plan
All submissions under this program will be carefully evaluated to ensure consistency with the intent, requirements, and boundaries of this programmatic clearance. The sampling methods and reporting statistical data must include a specific description of:
  • the sampling plan and sampling procedure (including stratification and selection methods for individual respondents)
  • how the instrument will be administered to respondents
  • the planned analysis
  • expected confidence intervals

6 Steps in the Programmatic Clearance Process

Step 1:The PI completes the Programmatic Review Form and prepares the proposed data-collection instrument

    • The PI completes the Programmatic Review Form and prepares the proposed data-collection instrument. Instructions are provided for each item on the form The submission form requires you to provide summary information, including a short description of the purpose and use of the information, an estimate of the burden, information about the respondents, and a copy of the questions that will be asked in the form or format that they will be asked (e.g., if you are asking questions using a web-based application, the screen shots must be provided; if you are conducting a focus group, the script for the focus group facilitator must be provided). In addition, questions in the proposed data-collection instrument must have each topic area clearly identified. Please list topic areas by number and title. Submissions not following this format will be returned to the PI, resulting in delays in the review process.
    • In addition, questions in the proposed data-collection instrument must have each topic area clearly identified. Please list topic areas by number and title. Submissions not following this format will be returned to the PI, resulting in delays in the review process.
Step 2: Submit request through NPS Survey Request Tracking Solution (SRTS)
    • Starting in 2016 all proposed submissions must be submitted and will only be received through the NPS Survey Request Tracking Solution (SRTS). All non-NPS employees must register before using SRTS. Upon registration your request must be approved and your status "activated" before you will be able to use the program. The PI submits the completed form and a copy of the proposed survey instrument to the NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator for review.
    • The submission package must include:
  1. any introductory script used in contacting the public,
  2. all correspondences to be sent to potential respondents,
  3. all survey or interview questions, each question being clearly identified as to the topic area under which it is being submitted (topic area number and title),
  4. necessary Paperwork Reduction Act compliance language inserted into the survey instrument,
  5. if applicable, scripts for non-response bias analysis follow-ups, and
  6. any other supporting materials (such any maps and photographs).
    • For all qualitative surveys (including focus groups) the scripts used must include the necessary PRA compliance language. For person-to-person information collections, such as on-site interviews, telephone interviews and focus groups, a short statement describing how the PI intends to communicate PRA compliance information to respondents is required in the description of the survey methodology. All submission packages must be formatted as MS Word documents
    • NOTE: Please do not send materials in PDF format, as these will be returned and sent through SRTS.
Step 3:NPS Review
    • The NPS Social Science Branch staff conducts an administrative and technical review of the submission. The staff recommends either: approval, revision, resubmission under the Standard Paperwork Reduction Act approval process, or rejection of the proposed survey. The NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator will make the decision based upon a complete review of the submitted package, and the PI will be promptly notified. Should a submission be rejected, the PI may submit an appeal, in writing, to the Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, for a final decision
Step 4: OIRA (Office of Regulatory Affairs) Review
    • If approved by the NPS, the NPS Social Science Branch staff transmits the submission to The Office of Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for final review. The OIRA Desk Officer will review the submission and notifies the NPS of approval or necessary revisions. Should the Desk Officer have specific questions about the survey instrument or proposed methodology, the NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator will immediately inform the PI and work with the PI to make necessary revisions. The NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator will submit the PI's revisions and inform the PI of the results.
Step 5: OMB Approval
    • If approved, the NPS Information Collection Review Coordinator will notify the PI immediately and will assign a survey expiration date. The standard survey expiration date will be no more than six months after the survey end date listed on the approval form. If OMB requires any special conditions for the approval (e.g., furnishing actual response rates to surveys), the PI will be informed and the conditions must be met for approval. Individual survey expiration dates will not exceed the expiration date OMB assigns to the Programmatic Clearance Process.
    • Additions or changes to a survey instrument after it has been approved, even within the specific topic areas, are not allowed by OMB. An exception is that questions may be deleted after approval by OMB, if necessary and if there's no significant potential for ordering bias. In addition, the PI must provide the NPS Social Science Branch with an archive copy of the final report describing the results of the survey.
    • The final survey instrument must (without exception) display the following:
      • the OMB Control Number 1024-0224
      • the OMB Control Number expiration date
      • the Paperwork Reduction Act statement
Step 6: Final Report
    • The requesting official will submit a final (or interim –for on-going projects) report to the NPS Social Science Branch at the conclusion of the approved collection. The report should include:
      • A descriptive reporting of the data
      • A reporting of the response rates
      • Any implications of non-response bias
* Note: Submissions received during the Spring/Summer visitation seasons (April through August) will likely experience significant delays in review times.

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Last updated: January 12, 2017

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