April 12, 2000

Performance and Purpose; Constituents Rate Government Agencies


Sample Design of the Constituents of the Five Federal Agencies

This survey of constituent groups from five federal agencies was conducted through telephone interviews under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates between January and April 1999. The agencies included in the survey are the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration (SSA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The specific constituent groups interviewed are outlined below.

For samples of individuals, random-digit dialing was used to randomly select households within the continental US. At each household that agreed to be interviewed a short screening questionnaire was administered to determine whether anyone in the household qualified for the survey.

Samples of business leaders were randomly selected by firm from the Dun & Bradstreet nationwide listing of US firms. Advocacy groups were chosen from the listing of nonprofit groups compiled by the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

To maximize the representativeness of the samples, interviewers made multiple attempts and accommodated appointments at each randomly selected number before determining an individual was unreachable. For all samples, when someone refused an interview he or she was called back at least once with a specially trained interviewer in attempt to convince the respondent to participate.


I. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Individual Taxpayers: Individual taxpayers adults living in households that filed federal income taxes at least once in the past three years.

Business Tax Officers: Senior tax officers at businesses. Small, medium and large firms across all industries were sampled.

Professional Tax Preparers: Paid tax preparers, that is, professionals who make their living preparing others’ taxes. (This category is distinct from tax officers at businesses, who work preparing taxes for the firm that employs them.)

II. Social Security Administration (SSA)

Recipients: Adults who currently receive benefits from any of The Social Security Administration entitlement programs, including retirement insurance and disability insurance.

FICA Taxpayers: Adults who has paid FICA taxes. SSA entitlement programs are financed by the FICA payroll tax.

Business Payroll Officers: Senior payroll officers at businesses.

III. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Business Regulatory Officers: Senior regulatory officers who act as a liaison between their company — manufacturers of food, drugs and medical devices — and the FDA.

Medical Professionals: Licensed physicians and pharmacists.

Advocates: Senior officers at health and medicine advocacy groups who are responsible for working on food and drug regulatory matters. These groups include nonprofit organizations that advocate on behalf of sufferers of diseases and disorders.

Chronically Ill: A sample of the general public that takes medication for a chronic illness such as heart disease, high blood pressure, emotional or mental illness, or diabetes. Roughly one fifth of Americans qualify for this definition of chronically ill.

IV. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Business Regulatory Officers: Senior environmental managers at firms in six industry sectors: mining, chemicals, metals, waste, dry cleaning and printing. Environmental managers work as a liaison between their company and the EPA.

Advocates: Senior officers responsible for working on environmental regulation matters at Environmental advocacy groups. They include national groups with large offices and many programs as well as smaller, regional groups with a narrower focus.

General public: A nationwide sample of the general public — adults, 18 years of age or older.

V. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Business Regulatory Officers: Senior regulatory affairs officers at air industry firms who act as a liaison between their company and the FAA. Three groups of firms were sampled: airlines, aircraft manufacturers and aircraft maintenance firms.

Pilots: Pilots who fly commercially and a separate sample of pilots who fly for recreation.

Controller Union Officers: Senior officers at local chapters of the unions that represent air traffic controllers.

Frequent Fliers: A sample of the general public if they travel by airplane at least once every few months. Roughly one fifth of the US population is considered frequent fliers by this definition.