Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

Clearance Process for Surveys and Questionnaires

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. Examples of exceptions include but are not limited to:

  1. Information collection with less than 10 respondents in a 12-month period
  2. Open-ended questions
  3. Information collection from a single DoD component (for example, only the U.S. Air Force)
  4. 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)
  5. Examinations designed to test the aptitude, abilities, or knowledge of the person tested for a collection


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) is available to advise on the pathway and format for seeking clearance for information collection. The USU policy is found here (insert link) and the application to request a consultation is here (insert link)

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 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 contact the USUHS IMCO, who is:

Ms. Kim L. Frazier (DHA IMCO) at 703-681-3636 or or her support assistant Ms. Sandra E. Dennis (Contractor, Altarum Institute), at 703-681-8818 or