Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Budget Control/Quality Control

06/01/2002

Successful containment of costs requires strict measures and frequent monitoring. Senior field staff are involved in developing the proposal and the associated budget. During this process, alternative options and tradeoffs are discussed until all are in agreement on priorities and budget caps. Contingency plans, in keeping with the clients objectives, must be in place. Field staff are then provided with a budget they helped formulate and are given the responsibility to manage it.

During the Woodlawn Studies, when the locating became more time consuming than expected, the client extended the field period to give the field staff more time. When extending the data collection period may not be feasible, as was the case during the baseline interviewing for the Seattle Study, other contingencies were adopted, such as keeping the travelers on site longer than anticipated originally. Others included the need for attrition training if interviewers dropped out for one reason or another, lowering targeted response goals, and so on.

The pressures imposed on the interviewers in a study characterized by a short field period, low budget, and difficult-to-locate respondents increase the importance of quality control efforts. It is essential to conduct validation interviews for at least 10 percent of each interviewers cases, sampling from completed cases as well as noninterviews. If possible, especially if there is a site office, plan to have supervisors observe some of the interviewing. This step displays their interest in quality control.

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