Starting next week, randomly selected Albemarle County residents will be called and asked to participate in an 18 minute telephone survey regarding their satisfaction with county services and policies. If you live in Albemarle County and receive such a call, The Free Enterprise Forum encourages you to make the time to answer the survey.
Albemarle County conducts this exercise every two years. Since the beginning of the survey in 2002, it has been conducted by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center’s Center for Survey Research. The most recent (2006) survey results may be found here.
Quoted in Albemarle County’s Media Release, County Executive Robert W. Tucker Jr. said:
The Survey is an important tool for gauging public priorities and issues of concern, and the results are very helpful as we make critical policy and resource decisions.
If this is the true goal of the survey, why are dollars not attached to the questions? In 2006, when asked about 22 county functions almost all were rated as important or somewhat important.
One must question the survey design if respondents have the opportunity to rank everything as important doesn’t that mean nothing is more important?
The Free Enterprise Forum believes conducting such a citizen survey has value but questions the freshness and vision of the personnel involved in the question making process. While many of the questions are repeated for consistency year after year, when was the last time an outsider reviewed the process? In the accounting business after several years of audits, it is generally accepted accounting procedures to change firms, regardless of the level of satisfaction with the vendor.
At the conclusion of this cycle, it’s time for Albemarle County to make a call — to a new survey vendor. This vendor should be engaged early to review the previously compiled survey data and engage with government, political and outside stakeholders to determine the direction for future satisfaction surveys.