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Working through National Citizen Survey for Watauga part 16

January 22, 2012

Appendix B

Page 84 goes over factors that play into the validity of the survey.  The next to last data point indicates that the survey could be sent in Spanish if the City requested it.  I’d love to know if it had been requested or not.

This is from page 85, the last paragraph before the section marked “Survey Sampling”, in the last lines of the paragraph.

“Whether or not some research confirms relationship between  what residents think about a community and what can be seen ‘objectively’ in a community, NRC has argued that resident opinion is a perspective that cannot be ignored by government administrators.  NRC principals have written ‘If you collect trash three times a day but residents think that your trash haul is lousy, you still have a problem.”

This is brilliance.  Here’s the next question though.  How much is it worth to fix that?  2x what the trash service is?  5x?  What is the value of obtaining this positive opinion?   I guess we’ll get to see when we start talking about this stuff in City Council.

This is from the bottom of page 86.  “An individual within each household was selected by the birthday method.  The birthday method selects a person within the household by asking the ‘person whose birthday has most recently passed’ to complete the questionnaire.  The underlying assumption in this method is that day of birth has no relationship to the way people respond to surveys. This instruction was contained in the cover letter accompanying the questionnaire.”  It’s not controlled, so how can it be valid.  Is this a jedi mind trick?

From Page 88 in the section titled “Survey Processing (Data Entry).  “Completed surveys received by NRC were assigned a unique identification number.  Additionally, each survey was reviewed and ‘cleaned’ as necessary.  For example, a question may have asked a respondent to pick two items out of a list of five, but the respondent checked three; NRC staff would choose randomly two of the three selected items to be coded in the dataset.”  Randomly?  Were these ‘cleaned’ forms indicated in the data capture that they had been altered?

Page 89 goes into data weighting.  I’m not going to type the page, but go read it if you care.  I’m fairly skeptical of the concept as, yet once again, they assume what they want and adapt the data to fit.  It lowers the value of the survey.

Page 91, in the section “Use of the ‘Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor’ Response Scale”:  “EGFP also has the advantage of offering three positive options rather than only two, over which a resident can offer an opinion.”  Looks like yet another example of the survey being designed to give favorable results for the government.

Also on page 91 “ ‘Don’t Know’ Responses.  In general, there is no indication that those with no opinion had no opinion.  The results show only those with an opinion.

There is a copy of the sample questions and the forms sent to each person.  It’s an interesting document and worth the read if you care.

There was a section of the survey for custom questions.  I would have liked to have had some input in this.  It would have been possible to see if people were actually informed about what happens in the city.  Did they know that that the max tax rate had been proposed for this year?  Roads not funded for 4 of the last 5 years?  No capital improvement to water system for 8 of the last 10 years?  Perhaps there could have been other questions that would have allowed an opportunity to evaluate the level of information a respondent may have had.  It’s disappointing that this wasn’t done.


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