Tipton Aims to End Cash-Laced Federal Surveys

Tipton Aims to End Cash-Laced Federal Surveys 
“Enticing survey responses with cash incentives to prove a societal need for a project is wrong on so many levels.”—Rep. Scott Tipton 

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) targeted blatant federal waste today, amending the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, with a bipartisan vote of 355-51, to prohibit the Bureau of Reclamation and the other agencies covered under the legislation from funding surveys in which money is included or provided for the benefit of the responder.

In 2011, the Bureau of Reclamation sent a survey to solicit local, regional and national input on the societal need to remove four privately owned dams on the Klamath River. The survey was mailed to 11,000 households in California, Oregon and selected households in the rest of the nation. Each of these households received a postcard telling them a survey was coming, and then a large packet with the survey arrived. Each packet included a cover letter, postage-paid return envelope and survey with a $2 bill included to encourage people to respond—totaling $22,000 American taxpayer dollars.

Those who did not respond, but kept the $2 bill anyway, then received a follow-up Federal Express or Priority Mail package. These packages were sent to 1,245 people, out of which 286 responded. Each of these 286 respondents was given $20, which means that $5,720 of additional American taxpayer dollars were spent -– not including the cost of the FedEx or priority mail.

“Enticing survey responses with cash incentives to prove a societal need for a project is wrong on so many levels,” Tipton said. “First and foremost, it’s a blatant waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. Collecting data this way is disingenuous, and a downright sneaky move by this Administration’s cadre of out-of-touch bureaucrats.”

Replies to the survey included:

“No wonder the US is having $$ problems if the government has extra $2 bills to mail out randomly.”

“Wow, what a waste of time. I have neither the time or interest in something I have not a clue about happening clear across the country. Sorry. P.S. Thanks for the 2 bucks.”

“My amendment prohibits the Bureau of Reclamation and the other agencies covered under this legislation from funding a survey in which money is included or provided for the benefit of the responder,” said Tipton. “It doesn’t say that federal agencies can’t have public input or send out surveys, which is a necessary process – it simply says no more giving away taxpayer dollars.”

In addition to the amendment, Tipton plans to pursue legislative options to ban all federal agencies from including taxpayer dollars in surveys for the benefit of the responder.

View Tipton’s amendment here.