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Agency Information Collection Proposed Extension

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U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Department of Energy (DOE).


Notice and request for comments.


EIA invites public comment on the proposed three-year extension, with changes, to the Generic Clearance for Questionnaire Testing, Evaluation, and Research, as required under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. EIA-882T, Generic Clearance for Questionnaire Testing, Evaluation, and Research, provides EIA with the authority to utilize qualitative and quantitative methodologies to pretest questionnaires and validate the quality of data collected on EIA's surveys. EIA uses EIA-882T to meet its obligation to publish, and otherwise make available independent, high-quality statistical data to federal government agencies, state and local governments, the energy industry, researchers, and the general public.


EIA must receive all comments on this proposed information collection no later than September 20, 2021. If you anticipate any difficulties in submitting your comments by the deadline, contact the person listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice as soon as possible.


Submit comments electronically to Gerson Morales by email at

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Gerson Morales, U.S. Energy Information Administration, telephone (202) 586-7077, or by email at

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This information collection request contains:

(1) OMB No.: 1905-0186;

(2) Information Collection Request Title: Generic Clearance for Questionnaire Testing, Evaluation, and Research;

(3) Type of Request: Three-year extension with changes;

(4) Purpose: The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is requesting a three-year approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to utilize qualitative and quantitative methodologies to pretest questionnaires and validate the quality of the data that is collected on EIA and DOE survey forms. Through the use of these methodologies, EIA will conduct research studies to improve the quality of energy data being collected, reduce or minimize survey respondent burden, and increase agency efficiency. This authority would also allow EIA to improve data collection in order to meet the needs of EIA's customers while also staying current in the evolving nature of the energy industry.

The specific methods proposed for the coverage by this clearance are described below. Also outlined is the legal authority for these voluntary information gathering activities.

The following methods are proposed:

Pilot Surveys. Pilot surveys conducted under this clearance will generally be methodological studies, and will always employ statistically representative samples. The pilot surveys will replicate all components of the methodological design, sampling procedures (where possible), and questionnaires of the full scale survey. Pilot surveys will normally be utilized when EIA undertakes a complete redesign of a particular data collection methodology or when EIA undertakes data collection in new energy areas, such as HGL production, alternative fueled motor vehicles, and other emerging areas of the energy sector where data collection would provide utility to EIA.

Cognitive Interviews. Cognitive interviews are typically one-on-one interviews in which the respondent is usually asked to “think aloud” or is asked “retrospective questions” as he or she answers questions, reads survey materials, defines terminology, or completes other activities as part of a typical survey process. A number of different techniques may be involved including, asking respondents what specific words or phrases mean or asking respondents probing questions to determine how they estimate, calculate, or determine specific data elements on a survey. The objectives of these cognitive interviews are to identify problems of ambiguity or misunderstanding, examine the process that respondents follow for reporting information, assess survey respondents' ability to report new information, or identify other difficulties respondents have answering survey questions in order to reduce measurement error from estimates based on a survey.

Respondent Debriefings. Respondent debriefings conducted under this clearance will generally be methodological or cognitive research studies. The debriefing form is administered after a respondent completes a questionnaire either in paper format, electronically, or through in-person interviews. The debriefings contain probing questions to determine how respondents interpret the survey questions, how much time and effort was spent completing the questionnaire, and whether they have problems in completing the survey/questionnaire. Respondent debriefings also are useful in determining potential issues with data quality and in estimating respondent burden.

Usability Testing. Usability tests are similar to cognitive interviews in which a respondent is typically asked to “think aloud” or asked “retrospective questions” as he or she reviews an electronic questionnaire, website, visual aid, or hard copy survey form. The objective of usability testing is to check that respondents can easily and intuitively navigate electronic survey collection programs, websites, and other survey instruments to submit their data to EIA.

Focus Groups. Focus groups, in person, online, or by phone, involve group sessions guided by a moderator who follows a topic guide containing questions or subjects focused on a particular issue rather than adhering to Start Printed Page 38328a standardized cognitive interview protocol. Focus groups are useful for exploring issues concerning the design of a form and the meaning of terms from a specific group of respondents, data users, or other stakeholders of EIA data. Focus groups may also be used to explore respondents' general opinions about data collection technologies or survey materials other than questionnaires.

(4a) Proposed Changes to Information Collection:

EIA proposes to add several other methodologies or techniques to improve survey design, pretest questionnaires and validate the quality of the data that is collected on EIA and DOE survey forms.

Field Techniques. Field techniques described in survey research and survey methodology literature will be employed as appropriate. These include follow-up probing, memory cue tasks, paraphrasing, confidence rating, response latency measurements, free and dimensional sort classification tasks, and vignette classifications. The objective of all of these techniques is to aid in the development of surveys that work with respondents' thought processes, thus reducing response error and burden. These techniques have also proven useful for studying and revising pre-existing questionnaires.

Behavior Coding. Behavior coding is a quantitative technique in which a standard set of codes is systematically applied to respondent/interviewer interactions in interviewer-administered surveys or respondent/questionnaire interactions in self-administered surveys. The advantage of this technique is that it can identify and quantify problems with the wording or ordering of questions, but the disadvantage is that it does not necessarily illuminate the underlying causes.

Split Panel Test. Split panel tests refer to controlled experimental testing of alternative hypotheses. Thus, they allow one to choose from among competing questions, questionnaires, definitions, error messages or survey improvement methodologies with greater confidence than any of the other methods. Split panel tests conducted during the fielding of the survey are superior in that they can support both internal validity (controlled comparisons of the variable(s) under investigation) and external validity (represent the population under study). Most of the previously mentioned survey improvement methods can be strengthened when teamed with this method.

(5) Annual Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,800;

(6) Annual Estimated Number of Total Responses: 1,800;

(7) Annual Estimated Number of Burden Hours: 2,200;

(8) Annual Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping Cost Burden: $179,630 (2,200 annual burden hours multiplied by $81.65 per hour). EIA estimates that respondents will have no additional costs associated with the surveys other than the burden hours and the maintenance of the information during the normal course of business.

Comments are invited on whether or not: (a) The proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of agency functions, including whether the information will have a practical utility; (b) EIA's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used, is accurate; (c) EIA can improve the quality, utility, and clarity of the information it will collect; and (d) EIA can minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, such as automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Statutory Authority: 15 U.S.C. 772(b) and 42 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.

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Signed in Washington, DC, on July 14th, 2021.

Samson A. Adeshiyan,

Director, Office of Statistical Methods and Research, U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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[FR Doc. 2021-15360 Filed 7-19-21; 8:45 am]