The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is a Web-based organizational climate survey administered annually by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The survey targets full- or part-time, permanently employed civilian personnel from more than 80 U.S. government agencies. Despite increases in the scope, publicity, and uses of FEVS data, its response rate has gradually declined over time. In an effort to gauge the causes for nonresponse, this paper discusses results from an experiment fielded during the 2017 FEVS in which a portion of sampled individuals was given the opportunity to opt out from the survey. Before effectively being added to the “unsubscribe” list, however, the individual was asked to cite the primary reason for choosing not to take the FEVS. Using auxiliary information from the sampling frame, this article argues that inferences based on this item are valuable because opters out are generally representative of the larger pool of nonrespondents.
Assessing nonresponse bias by permitting individuals to opt out of a survey