What's Happening with the Transparency Initiative? A November 2011 Update

By Paul J. Lavrakas, President Elect

Progress on implementing the AAPOR Transparency Initiative (TI) is being made with the TI Steering Committee* planning a “pilot test” of the application, review and certification processes for early 2012.

This past summer the Steering Committee established four working subcommittees to dimension and plan the highly complex implementation of the TI:

  • Structure, Qualification and Compliance – chaired by David Cantor, this subcommittee is planning the processes that will be used for (a) receiving applications for TI certification, (b) reviewing applications and granting certification, (c) appealing decisions to not grant certification, (d) monitoring ongoing compliance of certified organizations, and (e) vetting noncompliance complaints against certified organizations. It also is planning the establishment of a TI Coordinating Committee which will take over management of the TI once it is fully implemented, which is anticipated to occur in 2012.
  • Database Processes and Infrastructures – co-chaired by Peter V. Miller and Leah Christian, this subcommittee is creating the application materials an organization will need to complete/submit as part of its desire to receive TI certification, as well as planning for the short- and long-term infrastructures that will need to be created and maintained to store information from certified organizations about their publicly disseminated polls/surveys.
  • Internal and External Communication and Education – chaired by Rich Morin, this subcommittee is planning how to publicize the staged implementation of the TI, the application process, and outcomes both within and outside of AAPOR. It also is creating training mechanisms for teaching applicants (a) how to apply for certification, (b) appeal failure to receive certification, (c) re-qualify for certification, and other aspects of the TI.  Devising training for TI reviewers and TI monitors also is within the purview of this group.
  • Staffing and Costs – chaired by Paul J. Lavrakas, this subcommittee is working to identify the short- and long-term costs to AAPOR to run the TI and the staff that will need to be hired to supplement the AAPOR volunteers who will do the ongoing work. The group also is trying to identify sources of additional revenue to support these expenses. Additionally, the group is working with AAPOR’s legal counsel to identify the scope of potential liabilities that AAPOR might face due to matters related to the TI.

With the help of members of the TI Advisory Committee – organizations that volunteered in 2010 to serve as a sounding board for ideas about the substance, structure, and implementation of the TI – which is coordinated by Courtney Kennedy, the Steering Committee and its subcommittees are now focusing heavily on dimensioning a pilot test of the TI application and review stages to be implemented in early 2012.

The pilot test will allow the Steering Committee to determine whether the procedures and infrastructures need to be refined before the full roll-out of the TI. The pilot test is anticipated to run for four to six months. The organizations that agree to participate in the pilot test will be expected to submit their application materials as though they actually were going to be granted certification and gain all the benefits associated with that designation. But their participation in the pilot test will not be visible outside the Steering Committee. 

At the time the full TI is rolled out it is expected that the organizations that have been granted “provisional certification” during the pilot test, will have their status changed to full public certification.

*TI Steering Committee Members: David Cantor, Leah Christian, Marjorie Connelly, Liz Hamel, Melissa Hermann, Tim Johnson, Scott Keeter, Courtney Kennedy, Paul J. Lavrakas (chair), Peter Miller, Rich Morin, Joe Murphy, Chuck Shuttles and Susan Tibbitts.