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Thank you for your interest in working with CivicPulse! A core part of CivicPulse’s mission is to expand opportunities for top-quality research focused on local and state governance.

CivicPulse is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that runs surveys of public officials in the United States. Our mission is to generate insights about the public sector through better access to reliable data and research. We work with researchers and organizations across an array of academic disciplines and professional domains.

CivicPulse offers the ability to conduct surveys of elected policymakers, top appointed executives, and key department heads in local government. We also offer surveys of civil service staff across a range of departments in local and state government, as well as the federal government on a case-by-case basis. 


Respondent Types

At CivicPulse, we define a “respondent type” by the combination of level of government, role, and department.  

Survey options center on two factors: (a) the level of scarcity of the sampling frame and (b) the expected survey length.  

Survey Options and Pricing

Researchers may propose customizations of the sampling frame. For example, some researchers in the past have requested that respondents only represent local governments above a certain population size, or in a particular region of the country. Based on the difficulty of achieving the requested customization, CivicPulse will assess feasibility and, if feasible, provide a maximum sample size and a pricing quote. 

Restricted Access Dataset

CivicPulse also offers the service of a Restricted Access Dataset (RAD) for researchers to have access to identifiable government and jurisdictional information (e.g., government name, Census ID, and additional community characteristics), subject to a data sharing agreement that prohibits the researcher from publicly posting the RAD or any information that could identify a specific department or government publicly.  

How to Apply

How To Apply 

Because of the specialized challenges associated with conducting an effective survey with public officials, we encourage interested researchers to communicate with us early on in their project development process.  You can do so by writing us at Inquiries about projects in any stage of development are welcome.

Get started with your application by downloading these documents: 

Custom Surveys 

Custom surveys are accepted and fielded on a rolling basis. A custom survey typically takes 2 to 4 months from the initial inquiry to data delivery, though the amount of time varies by project.

A common timeline for a custom survey is as follows: 

  • Researcher reaches out to CivicPulse with preliminary idea.  

  • Researcher and CivicPulse iterate to identify optimal sampling strategy and questionnaire design for research project.  

  • Researcher submits for IRB once questionnaire is decided.  

  • Researcher initiates payment.   

  • CivicPulse programs survey and shares link with researcher for review.  

  • CivicPulse completes pilot data collection.   

  • CivicPulse follows up with researchers if changes are needed.

  • CivicPulse completes full data collection.  

  • CivicPulse completes data anonymization and delivery to researcher.  

Custom Surveys Application
Developing Your Questionnaire

Developing Your Questionnaire 

Unlike most public opinion surveys—where respondents are incentivized to complete the survey no matter how it is designed—our surveys rely on public officials who voluntarily answer questions because they believe it is serving the public good. As such, content on CivicPulse surveys must be engaging and easy to comprehend. Our team will work with you to minimize survey drop-off.   


Here we offer four general considerations to keep in mind before moving on to more specific guidelines for developing your questionnaire.   

  • First, please make sure to use plain, clear English (rather than Academic or Industry English!).  

  • Second, CivicPulse respondents represent a wide range of communities, including many small, more rural communities. Sometimes researchers may not be aware of this and make their content too “big city” centric, leading some respondents to feel the survey is not for them and drop off.  

  • Third, keep in mind that a significant portion of our respondents’ complete surveys on their mobile phones. Please make sure to keep in mind how the content will display on mobile.  

  • Fourth and finally, some types of content are explicitly prohibited. Specifically, we ask researchers to avoid the following:  

    • Overly complex tasks or questions  

    • Deception or any misleading language (explicit hypotheticals are acceptable)  

    • Content designed to change behavior  

For more detailed guidelines, please download the complete survey application guidelines. 

Additional Information

Additional Information 


Funding and Payment 

We do not require proof of funding to apply for a custom survey. Once your application is accepted and your survey questionnaire is finalized, we will ask you to sign a Scope of Work.   


Once you have reviewed the Scope of Work and signed it, we will send it back to you countersigned along with an invoice with instructions for payment. Please note that payment must be made prior to survey launch. If you anticipate any issues with funding or the payment timeline, please let us know ASAP. In particular, you may be required to establish CivicPulse as a vendor at your university or organization. If that requires additional paperwork on our end, let us know.    

Institutional Review Board (IRB) 

CivicPulse is a 501c(3) outside the purview of any particular university’s IRB jurisdiction. As such, it is your own responsibility to get the questionnaire approved by your institution’s IRB, if relevant. The questionnaire template provides our standard survey introduction language at the top of the document.  


It is significantly shorter than the typical “consent language” used for many public opinion surveys. We strive to maintain a short survey introduction to reduce survey attrition, given that our survey respondents are government officials volunteering their very limited time. However, if modifications are required, please let us know and we will work closely with you to ensure the survey introduction complies with both CivicPulse’s operational requirements and your IRB’s research ethics guidelines.  

Post-survey research brief 

As a mission-driven nonprofit, we aim to both facilitate frontier research while also generating useful insights for the community that we are surveying. To that end, we are committed to following up within three months of closing the survey to the government community with some brief insights from each survey we conduct. We typically do this by writing up a short research brief based on 2-3 items from your survey (pre-approved by you) that might be interesting to the local government community while also ensuring you don’t have to worry about being “scooped.” Rest assured: this does not mean more work for you. We write the research briefs ourselves and run them by you.  

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