Policy Document

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Customer Service and Feedback

Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Visitors to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Operating Administration websites may submit feedback on the particular content of a webpage or the entire site through our Feedback form. In addition, DOT utilizes a site-wide ForeSee survey to gain insights into our customer’s web and mobile experience. Targeted, customized surveys may also be presented to our website visitors. Our Privacy Program page provides more detail on information collection by DOT.

The Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 is designed to reduce the total amount of paperwork burden the federal government imposes on private businesses and citizens. The Act imposes procedural requirements on agencies that wish to collect information from the public. The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (PRA) requires that agencies obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval before requesting most types of information from the public. "Information collections" include surveys, forms, interviews, and recordkeeping requirements, to name a few categories.

Before requiring or requesting information from the public, the PRA generally requires Federal agencies to:

  1. Post a 60-day Federal Register notice for public comment on the proposed collection;
  2. Post a subsequent 30-day Federal Register notice; and,
  3. Submit the proposed collection for review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) concurrent with the 30-day Federal Register notice.

OMB created two processes for information collection: the Fast Track PRA Process and the Traditional PRA Process.

Fast-Track PRA Process

OMB worked with agencies to create a fast-track process for information collections that focus on the awareness, understanding, attitudes, preferences, or experiences of customers or other stakeholders (e.g., delivery partners, co-regulators, or potential customers) relating to existing or future services, products or communication materials. The fast-track process allows agencies to submit such collections directly to OMB without posting in the Federal Register, since these agencies will have already created a generic clearance for these types of collections. The collection can then be quickly approved, unless OMB identifies any problems, and if so, they will notify the agency within five business days of submission. Consider using the fast-track process for your data collection activities when:

  • The data collection is focused on improving existing or future services, products, or communication materials;
  • The data collection is voluntary;
  • Statistical rigor is not required;
  • The burden on participants is not high; and
  • Public dissemination of results is not intended.

Generally, these service-delivery-focused, voluntary collections fall under the fast-track process: focus groups; one-time or panel discussion groups; customer satisfaction qualitative surveys; post-transaction customer surveys; online surveys; comment cards or complaint forms; moderated, un-moderated, in-person, and remote usability studies; and testing of a survey or other collection to refine questions. Examples of collections that would not generally fall under the fast-track process are: (i) surveys that require statistical rigor because they will be used for making significant policy or resource allocation decisions; (ii) collections whose results are intended to be published; and (iii) collections that are intended for basic research and that do not directly benefit the agency’s service delivery.

Ask the Department of Transportation (DOT) PRA or Privacy Officer, or Counsel’s office, if your survey is eligible for the fast-track process.

Traditional PRA Process

To collect service delivery information not covered by the fast-track process (also known as the Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery), you must draft the information collection instrument, and then submit a 60-day Federal Register notice to solicit public comment on the information collection. (OMB does not need to be notified before this submission, and agencies have latitude in how specific they are in these notices.  Some agencies post draft questionnaires and then use the 60 days to refine the survey.) After the 60 days, you must post a 30-day Federal Register Notice seeking public comment again, and submit the supporting statement and information collection instrument concurrently to OMB/OIRA. Some agencies can post this immediately after the 60-day notice is complete if no substantive comments are received. OIRA will approve the collection as is, recommend edits, or disapprove the request. Once OIRA has approved, your agency may proceed with the collection.

Soliciting Official Public Comment

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Operating Administrations will not solicit consensus advice from the public using web2.0 technologies.
 
Soliciting consensus advice is seeking input from the public with the intent to obtain advice, opinions or recommendations from the group acting in a collective mode. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) prohibits agencies from receiving consensus advice from de facto committees or groups that arise outside of the structure and public scrutiny of a formally established advisory committee.
 
Read more to determine when the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) is applicable.

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