Washington, DC – A coalition of research associations and professional societies today called upon the Obama Administration to defend the use of respondent incentives in federal surveys.

The organizations responded to an amendment passed in the Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 355 to 51. The amendment, from Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO-03), would prohibit the Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies covered by the legislation from funding surveys in which money is included or provided for the benefit of the responder.

In a letter sent to the White House today, the coalition wrote, “Although the Tipton amendment is seemingly motivated by one survey supported by one federal agency, we are concerned that its adoption, and possible inclusion in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, could severely hinder survey and opinion research across all agencies under the legislation’s rubric and establish a dangerous precedent for all other federally conducted and supported research.”

The organizations also were troubled by Congressman Tipton’s stated intention to introduce legislation, "to ban all federal agencies from including taxpayer dollars in surveys for the benefit of the responder."

"Our members depend on these surveys to be statistically valid and representative of the populations they query," the letter continued.  "To achieve a representative sample of survey participants, we know many surveys must provide incentives that attract, retain, and compensate individuals for their time and effort.  Incentives, such as cash, child care, and food, are imperative particularly when a survey involves economically disadvantaged individuals. Further, we understand that these incentives are provided with the full knowledge and consent of the survey’s funding agencies and the Office of Management and Budget."

The coalition called upon the White House to find other ways to address Rep. Tipton’s concerns and noted that the situation "provides a critical opportunity for our organizations to help inform members of Congress and their staff about the important role incentives play in the design and conduct of federally supported and conducted surveys."

Signers of the letter included the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, Association of Population Centers, American Sociological Association, American Statistical Association, Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations, Consortium of Social Science Associations, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, Decision Demographics, Marketing Research Association, and Population Association of America.

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- Founded in 1957, the Marketing Research Association (MRA) is the leading and largest association of the opinion and marketing research profession in the U.S., which delivers insights and intelligence to guide the decisions of companies providing products and services to consumers and businesses. Learn more at http://www.insightsassocation.org

- The Population Association of America (PAA) is a nonprofit, scientific, professional organization established to promote the improvement, advancement and progress of the human race through research of problems related to human population. Learn more at http://www.populationassociation.org