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More Airmen needed to provide feedback through AF climate survey

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- More than 130,000 people have participated in this year's Air Force Climate Survey, but more are needed to participate and provide their feedback to Air Force commanders and senior leaders before the survey closes Nov. 28.

The climate survey assesses the opinions and perceptions of active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian members on several key factors including satisfaction, resources and unit performance, said Brenda Gainey, one of the behavioral scientists at the Air Force Manpower Agency, who developed this year's survey.

"The great thing about the climate survey is that it gives Airmen the same avenue to speak directly to their leadership as the highest-ranking person in their organization," Mrs. Gainey said.

The biennial climate survey includes a set of core questions that have been used since its inception in 1995. These questions were developed and analyzed in conjunction with the Department of Management at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"We try to keep the core questions consistent from year to year for trending purposes," Mrs. Gainey said. "Commanders like to look back on their organizations and compare the results against the last couple of surveys."

Mrs. Gainey said they expand the questions included in the survey when the secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff need specific feedback about service-wide issues.

This year, senior leaders added questions to the survey addressing suicide prevention and the Year of the Air Force Family. Survey team members also added questions on trust in Airmen and trust in Air Force leadership based on analysis of responses from the last survey.

Lou Datko, an AFMA behavioral scientist, said the climate survey gives Air Force members an avenue to speak candidly to their leaders.

"Your inputs are going directly to your commander to help them make informed decisions about their unit," Mr. Datko said. "No identifying information is included in the reports given to unit commanders."

The survey team's goal is to ensure every unit commander receives a report, but they need at least 10 people from each unit to respond to the climate survey to compile enough data for commanders and protect the confidentiality of the members who took the survey.

"There are 16,000 units, and the units are our focus of the survey," Mr. Datko said. "We produce about 6,000 to 8,000 unit reports because some of those units have less than 10 people. We generate a report for each squadron, group, wing commander, major command and center commander."

All responses are aggregated to an overall Air Force-level report briefed to the chief of staff of the Air Force. In 2008, more than 231,000 people participated in the climate survey for a 43 percent participation rate among active-duty members, which enabled the survey team to generate more than 6,000 unit reports.
This year, although more than 95 percent of squadrons have had at least 10 people participate in the climate survey, participation at the group, wing and center level is significantly lower.

"If Airmen don't participate, they won't get a say, and their commander doesn't get a report," Mr. Datko said. "Nothing happens. You're the one who has to initiate the process."

For more information about the Air Force climate survey, visit the Air Force Survey Office website at on the Air Force Portal.