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Information Collection

A survey being conducted at Mount Rushmore National Monument.
A survey being conducted at Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Submissions for Programmatic Information Collection Review Is Now CLOSED

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The Social Science Branch is no longer accepting additional submissions for FY 2015 programmatic review of National Park Service-sponsored social science information. Unless you have made contact with this office prior to March 16, 2015, submissions for the April - July collection periods will no longer be accepted under any circumstances.

Full and complete submissions for collections scheduled for August - December must be submitted no less than 6 weeks before the anticipated start date.


The National Park Service (NPS) sponsors social science surveys of the public to provide park managers with information needed for park planning and management. Various review processes and research permits apply to surveys conducted, funded, or sponsored by the NPS, and to independent research conducted in parks.

The NPS has developed, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), a programmatic review process for NPS-sponsored surveys of the public. The programmatic review process is a separate process from the standard Paperwork Reduction Act process for NPS-sponsored surveys that collect data from park visitors, potential park visitors, and/or residents of communities near parks that cover specific, pre-approved topic areas.

Surveys outside the scope of programmatic review require approval through the standard information collection review process outlined by the Paperwork Reduction Act. This process takes 6-9 months. For more information, please contact the collection review coordinator.


Preparing a Submission for Programmatic Review

The information below is intended to answer frequently asked questions regarding the programmatic review process, in particular for principal investigators and park managers who are preparing to submit or have submitted social science studies. More detail is available in the Guidelines for the Programmatic Review and Clearance Process for NPS-Sponsored Public Surveys.

Does my study need OMB approval?

OMB approval is required of all NPS-sponsored information collections when ten or more individuals are being asked the same question(s). NPS-sponsorship of a study is not limited to financial support, but also includes any involvement in a study that could give the impression of NPS-sponsorship (such as in-kind support, surveying help, involvement in instrument development, etc). All studies (focus groups, surveys, interviews, etc.) involving the public require OMB approval; studies of NPS employees (while on duty) or studies in which information is collected about people solely through observation are exempt from the review process.

Does my study qualify for programmatic review?

The program of programmatic review applies to NPS-sponsored surveys designed to furnish useful knowledge to NPS managers and planners. Questions asked under the programmatic review must show a clear tie to NPS management and planning needs. The programmatic review may only be used for non-controversial surveys that are unlikely to attract or include topics of significant public interest in the review process. Investigators who are unsure if a study qualifies under the programmatic review are strongly encouraged to contact the Social Science Branch for clarification early in the planning process.

The program of programmatic review is limited to three specific segments of the public: park visitors, potential park visitors, and residents of communities near parks. To qualify for the programmatic approval, all questions in a survey must fit within one or more of the approved topic areas and must be approved by the NPS and OMB. When submitting a study, please remember that each question within the designed information collection instrument must include the corresponding topic area identifier and label. Topic area identifiers and labels are listed in the Pool of Known Questions.

The scope of the Programmatic Review and Clearance Process for NPS-Sponsored Public Surveys is limited and will only include individual surveys of park visitors, potential park visitors, and residents of communities near parks. Use of the programmatic review will be limited to non-controversial surveys of park visitors, potential park visitors, and/or residents of communities near parks that are not likely to include topics of significant interest in the review process. Additionally, this process is limited to non-controversial information collections that do not attract attention to significant, sensitive, or political issues. Examples of significant, sensitive, or political issues include: seeking opinions regarding political figures; obtaining citizen feedback related to high-visibility or high-impact issues like the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the delisting of specific Endangered Species, or drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

My study qualifies, what do I do next?

Once it's determined that your study qualifies under programmatic review for NPS-sponsored surveys, you must prepare a submission package, which includes filling out the Programmatic Review Form and attaching your data collection instrument, as well as all relevant supporting materials (e.g., introductory scripts, non-response logs, photos, maps, etc.). Remember to carefully read the instructions for preparing programmatic submissions as presented in the Guidelines for the Programmatic Review and Clearance Process for NPS-Sponsored Public Surveys.

Please Note: Qualifying survey submissions under the programmatic review for NPS-sponsored public surveys must be submitted to the NPS Social Science Branch a minimum of 60 days prior to the first day the survey is to be administered in the field. There tend to be an increased number of submissions during the months of May, June, and July. During these busy months, survey review and approval may be somewhat delayed. Please plan accordingly and get submissions in as early as possible.

Important Reminders

  • All supporting materials must be included in a submission. A submission package is not complete (and cannot be reviewed) unless it contains all materials relevant to the study (including a completed programmatic review form, scripts, PRA compliance sections, questions with relevant topic areas, non-response logs, photos, etc).
  • Expected response rates require justification. Projected response rates for studies, as outlined within the programmatic review form, must be based on response rates from previous studies of a similar nature. For example, if a study is being done of day hikers at Yosemite National Park, the projected response rate should be a realistic estimate based upon other studies done with hikers at Yosemite or a similar park. These previous study response rates must be cited within the programmatic form.


Review Materials and Information

These are the documents that you will use to complete the Programmatic Review Process:


Survey Request Tracking Solution

The Survey Request Tracking System (SRTS) was exclusively developed to be an online system used to manage the Information Collection Request (ICR) for the Social Science Branch of the National Park Service. To conduct an information collection in a Park, within Park boundaries or on the behalf or at the bequest of the National Park Service, the Principle Investigator must first submit an ICR via SRTS.

All information requests for social science surveys will only be accepted through SRTS. Registered users will submit and track entire process electronically from beginning to end. All information will be archived in SRTS and in some cases retrievable by other registered users.

When viewing an information collection on SRTS, non-registered users will only see basic information, such as the title and burden hours. They will also be able to see the review history of the information collection. The contents of the ICRs will not be made public until OMB's review is completed and the control number is assigned.

Information Collections approved beginning in 2012 will be available as soon as they are migrated in to the new system. This system gives the public the ability to view and search the documents associated with the submission, including documents for the related information collections.

Register as a user.


Last Updated: March 26, 2015