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About the Survey

The Department of Defense Civilian Employee Workplace and Gender Relations Survey (WGRC) fulfills the Congressional mandate to conduct a survey to assess gender relations in the DoD civilian employee workplace. Information collected in this survey will be used to research a variety of topics, including unwanted gender-related behaviors, workplace climate, training, and policy effectiveness. This information will assist in the formulation of policies, which may be needed to improve programs and services for DoD civilian employees. Reports will be provided to the DoD, Congress, each DoD agency and U.S. military department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Historically, WGR surveys have been fielded to U.S. military members. In 2015, Congress directed the DoD to extend this survey requirement to DoD civilian employees as well as to yield a Total Force picture of the gender relations climate of the Department. The WGRC has been administered since 2016 to appropriated fund civilian employees. Non-appropriated fund employees were added to the WGRC in 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did you pick me?

OPA uses industry-standard scientific procedures to select a stratified random sample of civilian employees who are over the age of 18, U.S. citizens, in a pay status, and not political appointees. This ensures results received are representative of the DoD civilian employee population.

Why should I participate?

Your responses on this survey make a difference. This is your chance to be heard on issues that directly affect you, including policies and practices regarding general workplace respect issues as well as sexual harassment, and other gender-related issues. As policies and resources may be informed by the results of this survey, it is important to hear from all DoD civilian employees, regardless of their experiences, in order to understand the experiences of the DoD civilian workforce.

Why does the survey ask personal questions?

Sometimes sensitive questions are asked in order to improve personnel policies, programs, and practices. As with all questions on the survey, your responses are kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

Will my answers be kept private?

All data will be reported in the aggregate and no individual data will be reported. We encourage you to safeguard your Ticket Number to prevent unauthorized access to your survey. In addition, to ensure your privacy, please be aware of the environment in which you take the survey (e.g., take the survey when no one else can see your computer screen, take care to not leave the survey site on your computer screen unattended). Survey responses received are kept confidential to the extent permitted by law. However, if you indicate a direct threat to harm yourself or others within responses or communications about the survey, because of concern for your welfare, OPA may notify an office in your area for appropriate action.

Why does the survey ask for demographic information?

OPA reports overall results, as well as by other characteristics, such as gender, Component, racial/ethnic minority status, etc. To complete these analyses, we must also ask for demographic information from respondents. Analyzing results in this way provides DoD leaders information about the attitudes and concerns of all subgroups of personnel so that no groups are overlooked. Your answers to any demographic items are strictly used for this purpose and will not be used to identify individual respondents. As with all questions on this survey, your responses are kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

Do I have to answer all the questions?

No, it is not necessary to answer every question. You can skip any question that you prefer not to answer.

Has there ever been a survey like this for the DoD civilian workforce?

Yes. The first survey of this nature was administered to civilian employees in 2016 per Congressional requirement. Prior to this initial administration, only military populations have received Workplace and Gender Relations (WGR) surveys from the Department. In 2015, Congress extended the WGR survey requirement to DoD civilian employees to understand the gender relations climate for all DoD employees. This ensures the Department is designing policies that benefit both military and civilian employees in combatting sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and sexual assault.

Do I have to participate in the survey since it is Congressionally mandated?

No. The Department is required to conduct this survey, but your participation is completely voluntary. You may choose not to participate and can opt out of the survey at any time. You may also skip over any questions you do not wish to answer. If you do not wish to participate or receive additional reminders about this survey, you may opt out by contacting OPA’s Survey Processing Center at 1-800-881-5307. You must provide your ticket number to do so.

What does the Department hope to learn from the survey?

The results from this survey will allow the Department to continue to assess the prevalence of unwanted gender-related behaviors in the DoD civilian workforce similar to rates derived for the military population. This may inform future prevention and response efforts. In addition, results will also allow the Department to more fully understand the workplace experiences of DoD civilian employees.

How do I know this is an official, approved DoD survey?

The WGRC is an official DoD survey sponsored by the DoD Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). The survey has gone through approvals at all levels of DoD leadership, including Service leadership coordination, and has been reviewed and approved by the DoD Privacy office and DoD Human Research Protections Program. The survey is also licensed by the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS). All multi-component data collection in the Department must be licensed and show that license as a Report Control Symbol (RCS) or an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number and expiration date.

Why do you use my contact information to invite me to participate in this survey? Isn’t this survey supposed to be anonymous?

This survey is “confidential,” not “anonymous.” In confidential surveys conducted by OPA, the identifying information of respondents is only used by government and contractor staff engaged in, and for purposes of, survey research (e.g., selecting, contacting, and tracking the participation of respondents). Individual survey responses received by OPA are kept in separate files from the personally identifiable information of respondents used to solicit survey participation and OPA only tracks survey responses back to individual respondents if a respondent indicates potential harm to self or others in survey responses or communications about the survey. Otherwise, survey responses are not tracked back to individual participants by OPA and survey results are reported in the aggregate so that no individual respondents can be identified. OPA's use of the word “confidential” is similar to its routine use in privacy statements within the health professions to denote that the information collected can potentially identify the individual respondent, but this information will not be shared with others unless compelled by law or written consent. Your survey responses will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

Can you compare the number of sexual assaults reported in the DoD civilian workforce to the number reported by military members?

OPA uses industry-standard scientific weighting and estimation methods so that, given the metrics for assessing these experiences are consistent between populations, the Department is able to compare estimated rates among the DoD civilian employees, Reserve, National Guard, and active duty military populations within statistical limitations (e.g., margins of error and known variance among populations). It is critical for the Department to conduct Workplace and Gender Relations surveys with DoD civilian employees as well to develop an understanding of their experiences in order to ensure those who do experience these behaviors have access to resources and assistance as necessary, which may differ from the needs of military members.

Does the survey ask about experiences outside of DoD civilian job duties?

The survey addresses DoD civilian experiences of gender-related behaviors in and outside of the DoD civilian workplace in order to understand the full scope of the issues and how the Department can best support all DoD civilian employees.