Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

  • VPR Research Survey Policy Guidance - June 2018 - RESCINDED

The survey clearance process has several steps, whether the clearance is obtained from the Department of Defense (DoD) for surveys of military populations or from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for surveys of civilian populations. The DoD will provide initial evaluation and then submit to the OMB on behalf of a DoD investigator. DoD investigators are not to submit applications directly to the OMB.

The first step is a determination whether the data collection requires formal DoD clearance or if the activity qualifies for an exception. If your information collection (to include survey, focus groups, questionnaires or interviews) will recruit subjects from two or more services or a civilian population of 10 or more you must submit your information collection to the MHS Request Submissions Portal. Follow the instructions below:

1. Complete the RCS-OMB Pre-coordination sheet (updated December 2019) and include this document along with your survey package (i.e. survey questions, protocol, correspondence, etc.) in step 2 below.

2. Submit your request through the MHS Request Submissions Portal:   Once on the site, select the "Analytics & Evaluation" service.  For "Submitting Agency/Service" select USD P&R.
          Once you complete this process, you'll receive an acknowledgement email with a Gov. ID from the MHS Triage Team.   Your request will then been routed to the "service" you selected for review and response.  

         3. Send an email to the IMCO org box at: (with CC: and to  to notify the IMCO that you have submitted a request through the MHS Request Submission Portal (this will alert the IMCO that the request is coming).


Examples of exceptions include but are not limited to:

  1. Information collection with less than 10 respondents in a 12-month period
  2. Information collection from a single DoD component (for example, only the U.S. Air Force)
  3. Information from individuals under treatment or clinical examination in connection with research to prevent a clinical disorder (includes active treatment for an ongoing condition or preventive measures to avoid a condition)


For a full list of exceptions, review the links below.

If the information collection activity does not qualify for an exception, a type of license called a Report Control Symbol (RCS) in the Department of Defense is required. The entire process to obtain an RCS is typically 180 days or more, so careful planning is required.

For further details on the DoD process see with additional information at

USUHS specific instructions for initiating the clearance process

The USU Office of Research (VPR) HRPPO is available to advise on the pathway and format for seeking clearance for information collection. 

Additional Resource for Students with limited time

The DoD provides databases of previously collected survey information that are accessible with permission for training and analytic purposes. These databases are particularly recommended for students with limited time to learn analytic techniques and methodologies without the need to conduct an original survey.

Defense Health Agency Information Management Control Officer assigned to USU

The Department of Defense has assigned an Information Management Control Officer (IMCO) to operational units that may collect information. To formally initiate the DoD clearance process to obtain a Report Control Symbol or to request access to the DoD datasets for secondary analysis and training or for further information, please follow the steps above, you may also contact the USUHS IMCO with additional questions:

Ms. Wanda Oka (DHA IMCO) at 703-681-1697 or or her support assistant Ms. Sandra E. Dennis (Contractor, Altarum Institute), at 703-681-8818 or