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Apr 11 -- The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD(P&R)), Department of Defense (DoD), invites comments to OMB by May 12, 2022 regarding the 2022 Armed Forces Workplace and Equal Opportunity Survey (WEOS).

This survey provides Service members with a chance to be heard on issues that directly affect them, including policies on racial/ethnic harassment and discrimination, extremism, and reporting processes.  Information from the WEO survey will be used by OUSD(P&R), policy offices, and the Military Departments to assess and improve personnel policies, programs, practices, and training related to diversity and inclusion in the military informed by current and statistically reliable information.  This survey is essential for providing insight to policymakers on the prevalence of racial/ethnic harassment and/or discrimination, as well as exposure to extremist activity, which directly impact military members’ health, well-being, and military readiness.    

The statutory requirements direct the DoD to conduct surveys to solicit information on racial and ethnic issues, including issues relating to harassment, discrimination, and the climate in the Armed Forces for forming professional relationships among members of various racial and ethnic groups. Specifically, surveys conducted under Title 10 U.S.C. 481 shall be conducted to solicit information on the following:

Indicators of positive and negative trends for professional and personal relationships among members of all racial and ethnic groups.
The effectiveness of DoD policies designed to improve relationships among all racial and ethnic groups.
The effectiveness of current processes for complaints on, and investigations into, racial and ethnic discrimination.

Moreover, in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as modified by the 2021 NDAA, the DoD was further directed to conduct a survey to assess whether or not military members witnessed or experienced extremism in their workplace, as well as whether or not those experiences were reported. To reduce survey burden, the Department identified the Workplace and Equal Opportunity (WEO) survey as the most appropriate existing survey vehicle to collect this information. As such, the 2022 WEO survey will be the first survey to collect and report on this new statutory requirement. Prior to including the new exposure to extremism metric on the 2022 WEO, the Department engaged in a year-long robust metric development and validation study to ensure results are collected consistently, and also to ensure results accurately measure the experiences required by law and IAW DoDI 1325.06 which define prohibited extremist activities for military members.
Overall, the results of the survey will assess progress, identify shortfalls, and revise policies and programs as needed, related to issues directly affecting military members. Data from this survey will be presented to the OUSD(P&R), Congress, and DoD policy and program offices to assess and improve policies, programs, practices, and training related to racial/ethnic relations in the Armed Forces informed by current and statistically reliable information. Analysis will include the Office of People Analytics' standard products: An executive report highlighting key findings, a trends/tabulations report (a set of relative frequency distributions of each question, and cross-tabulations of survey questions by key stratifying variables), briefing slides, and a statistical methodology report. Ad hoc analyses requested by the policy office sponsors and other approved organizations may be conducted and published as needed and based on available staff.
High priority research questions guiding this data collection to meet Congressional and policy reporting requirements are provided below.  Most of the new metrics added/modified come from validated scales and were only added to fulfill new reporting requirements (e.g., extremist activity, cyber harassment, and SOGI).  Additionally, comments are used to provide additional background on specific questions (e.g, scale references, how the results are used).  

What is the prevalence of racial/ethnic harassment/discrimination, in the Armed Forces (existing Congressional requirement)? (Q23—Q26)  Are these trends changing over time? (Q1—Q5, Q6—Q7, Q90)  If trends are changing, do we suspect that workplace climate (e.g., inclusion, cohesion, leadership, civility norms, workplace hostility, unit climate, reporting climate) explains these changes? (Q15—Q16, Q21—Q22, Q37, Q65—Q66, Q72—Q75)

What are the circumstances surrounding experiences of racial/ethnic harassment/discrimination (e.g., who, what, when, where, and impacts) that could be targeted for prevention and intervention (policy requirement)? (Q28—Q34)

How effective are current processes for responding to racial/ethnic harassment/discrimination complaints (existing Congressional Requirement)? (Q38—Q52)

What is the prevalence of exposure to extremist activity in the Armed Forces (new Congressional requirement)? (Q76—Q79) What are the circumstances surrounding such experiences and are they reported? (Q80—Q89)

Does cyber harassment occur in the Armed Forces (new IRC requirement being evaluated)? (Q67—Q68)

What percent of military members perceive experiencing other forms of harassment or discrimination tied to protected classes (e.g., religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity; policy requirement)? (Q27, Q92, Q94, Q97) To effectively assess these questions and report data out by these reporting categories, demographic information for religious preference (Q91), sexual orientation (Q93), and gender identity (Q95—Q96) must be collected.  New/Modified SOGI questions added that align with the FCSM SOGI Measurement Committee’s recommendation and helpful meet a new IRC requirement to report out rates generated on WEO surveys by SOGI.

What are the impacts of experiencing any of the prohibited behaviors assessed on this survey on key readiness and retention outcomes (e.g., retention intentions, morale, preparedness, job satisfaction, depression, anxiety; policy requirement)? (Q8—Q14, Q17—Q20, Q36) We modified questions for depression and anxiety to align with Census Pulse Surveys and used readiness and retention indicators approved by OMB on other military surveys.

What are the correlates of experiencing any of the prohibited behaviors assessed on this survey (e.g., inclusion, cohesion, leadership, civility norms, workplace hostility, unit climate, reporting climate) that can be targeted with prevention programming (existing Congressional and policy requirement)? (Q15—Q16, Q21—Q22, Q37, Q65—Q66, Q72—Q75) These validated scales have been used on other OPA surveys recently approved by OMB, but must be added here as well to determine their alignment with the problematic behaviors assessed on this particular survey.

How effective are current policies around improving racial/ethnic relations (Q53—Q56), training (Q69—Q71), and reporting knowledge (Q57) (existing Congressional requirement)?

What is the prevalence of problematic attitudes that can threaten diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts (policy requirement)? (Q58—Q64)

Prior WEOS reports: https://www.opa.mil/research-analysis/quality-of-work-life/workplace-climate
WEOS submission to OMB:https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202203-0704-015 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-07703

For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, the AEA Committee on Economic Statistics offers "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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