Paperless Polling

Paperless Polling

Jim Woodmansee takes the Transportation Department's pulse with online questionnaires.


In his 22-year government career, Jim Woodmansee remembers times when employee questionnaires went through the mail and had to be tabulated by hand.
Now Woodmansee, a personnel management specialist with the Transportation Department's Human Resources Automation and Systems Support Division, can choose between two methods of paperless polling without changing his software.

Ed Chambers, a management analyst with the IRS Office of Organizational Effectiveness in Atlanta, also has relied on paper questionnaires in the past. But he recently turned to EZSurvey 2000 from Raosoft Inc. of Seattle to quiz employees who took a training course. The evaluation asked them how they were using their new skills on the job four to six months after the course.

The most difficult part was building an alias to contain the 580 e-mail addresses for the survey and related messages.

Chambers said some IRS offices conduct surveys with optical character recognition forms. In general, the tax agency is moving toward electronic surveys, 'but what's been stopping us is technology,' he said. the IRS still does not have universal e-mail access.

Chambers e-mailed 580 copies of the survey and got about 350 responses. The most difficult part, he said, was building an alias to contain the 580 e-mail addresses for the survey and related messages.

A second chance

'Obviously, you don't type all those names,' Chambers said.

EZSurvey identified those who hadn't yet responded so that he could send follow-up e-mail. He now is working on four other surveys but hasn't yet decided on the distribution method.
Woodmansee has used EZSurvey software for a couple of large departmental surveys each of the past three years. Last September he posted on the Web a 157-question survey of employee and management attitudes toward work force diversity.

More than half of about 500 employees in the Transportation secretary's office responded. The question formats ranged from multiple choice to text response.

'If I retyped all the questions, there was always the chance I'd make typos,' Woodmansee said. 'So I just cut and pasted from the Microsoft Word document that the human resources people came up with.' He then imported a single text file from the server back into EZSurvey for data analysis.
Woodmansee uses EZSurvey 98 but plans to upgrade to the 2000 version soon. Disparate e-mail systems in the department have kept him from trying the e-mail version of EZSurvey. He designed the diversity survey on a 400-MHz Gateway PC running Microsoft Windows 98 and has since upgraded to an 800-MHz model.

The survey was hosted on a Microsoft Windows NT system at Transportation's administrative services center in Washington.

Although it was outside the firewall, it wasn't publicized except by broadcast e-mail to invited participants.


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