Results of the Office of Policy's 2001 User Satisfaction Survey.Soc Secur Bull. 2001-2002; 64(4):33-47.SS
In the summer of 2001, individuals who had an active professional interest in research or policy issues related to Social Security or to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) were surveyed by the Gallup Organization, under contract to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The survey had two goals. One was to determine the extent to which SSA's research, statistical, and policy analysis work was focusing on topics and issues of widespread concern to users. The other was to gauge user satisfaction with the products of that work. Most of SSA's research and analysis is carried out by the Office of Policy. Responses were obtained from 1,043 persons out of a sample of 1,800. Respondents were most likely to have been interested in Social Security or SSI issues for at least 10 years, to have used information from SSA multiple times during the preceding 2 years, and to have worked for the government, a college or university, or a nonprofit service organization. Results suggest that most users were satisfied with the quality of SSA's research, statistical, and policy analysis information products. Overall, 86 percent of those who had used products from SSA in the preceding 2 years were very or somewhat satisfied, 10 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and only 4 percent were somewhat or very dissatisfied. 70 percent to 89 percent of users were satisfied with the accuracy, clarity, comprehensiveness, objectivity, timeliness, usefulness, and ease of finding the information. They were most satisfied with accuracy and objectivity and least satisfied with timeliness and the accessibility of products. 62 percent of respondents were very or somewhat satisfied with SSA's identification of and work on new and emerging research and policy issues over the past 2 years, 24 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and 15 percent were somewhat or very dissatisfied. Respondents were asked to characterized their professional interests in two ways--as related primarily to Social Security, SSI, or both programs, and as related primarily to retirement issues, disability issues, or issues in both areas. Satisfaction varied, sometimes substantially, with professional interests. On all measures, Social Security specialists were more satisfied than SSI specialists, and retirement specialists were more satisfied than disability specialists. Note that of respondents interested primarily in the SSI program, 93 percent were also more interested in disability issues. The survey asked users to recommend ways of improving SSA's research, statistical, and policy analysis, and to recommend issues for SSA's research and policy agenda in the near future. Only 39 percent of users offered recommendations for improvement, and of those recommendations, no single issue predominated. In general, the most common recommendations were for increased data analysis in particular areas and for improved dissemination of information. A large proportion of respondents (77 percent) suggested issues that SSA should include in its research and policy agenda. Although the recommendations were quite diverse, two types appeared to dominate--disability issues and programs, and Social Security solvency and reform proposals. Some of the suggestions for disability research and policy work seem to suggest that the lower satisfaction ratings of specialists in this area reflect generalized dissatisfaction with the structure and administration of disability programs themselves rather than dissatisfaction with the quality of SSA's research and policy products. The Office of Policy is developing specific proposals for improving products and services, based on the survey's findings. By improving the quality and content of its statistical and analytical information, SSA will continue its efforts to meet the needs of a diverse research and policy community.