ASCAS PURPOSE & POLICY


To: U.S. Navy Surface Fleet Survey Respondents

Subj:  POLICIES REGARDING THE AFLOAT SAFETY CLIMATE ASSESSMENT SURVEYS (and other related surveys on this site)

  1. Commander, Naval Surface Forces mans, trains and equips the Surface fleet in support of warfighting. Mission success depends on our accuracy, precision, safety, efficiency and confidence to accomplish missions. This requires that crews and Captains have the ability to master the tactical and watch team proficiency requirements integral to operations at sea. To be more effective, Commanding Officers asked for an on-demand crew survey that quickly reveals and assesses latent (unrecognized) operational risk, and provides recommendations for action. In support of this request, Surface Force has created voluntary survey assessment tools, including the ASCAS (COMNAVSURFOR 032129Z AUG 16).
  2. Afloat Safety Climate Assessment Surveys (ASCAS) and other related surveys on this site are available online through a commercial secure web site, and in some cases off line via an Excel-based desk-top version, providing flexibility in administration. All surveys will have a few open ended questions for fill-in answers, but are designed to be both brief and easy to administer. Independent third-party professionals are used to provide the surveys, analysis, and debriefs. This increases the protections for both CO confidentiality and individual anonymity.
  3. COs receive feedback within 14 days following closing the survey by the ship's survey administrator. Results will be in the form of compiled responses to ensure crew anonymity; crew comments will be forwarded as written. A subject matter expert in Navy Industrial Psychology and Organizational Leadership helps COs identify safety concerns (hazards) and highlight areas where they might best focus their efforts (hazard assessment). ASCAS Surveys are organized using the Six Watch Standing Principles; others are organized to reflect the purpose of the survey. Debriefs will cover safety climate, resource availability, workload, and other factors relating to effectively conducting Surface ship operations, or personal on/off duty safety topics. Potential intervention strategies recommended will include best practices gleaned from multiple ships and other operational units over the years. COs may also ask follow-up questions or request more information at any point during or after the formal debrief. The one-on-one phone debrief uses own-ship raw responses and data - graphed and sorted in several ways. Further analysis and interpretation is provided by a trained, experienced, independent facilitator, and is specifically designed to bring deeper understanding.
  4. By accurately understanding the crew’s perceptions of their safety climate, command leaders can then engage at the right time with the right level of effort to effect positive changes in operational safety and risk management. COs, Command Triads, and Safety Officers are in the position to use survey information to develop strategies (make risk decisions) and then put those actions in place (implement controls) to better their organization's performance through leadership, policy changes, training or other methods.
  5. ASCAS and other related surveys on this site are not about command “culture” nor is it related to or distributed like the DEOCS/CMEO or any other survey products. The term “climate” in the survey title refers to the crew’s perception of what it’s like to work in the command today – nothing more. The surveys are by and for COs. They are about improving operational excellence, operational safety, and operational risk - only. ASCAS (and other related surveys on this site) data, results, and analysis are not used to target or identify individual commands for further safety reviews, inspections, investigations, Naval Safety Center visits, etc. Neither will they be used for awards, or provided to safety or command investigators at any level.
  6. Policy. The following form the cornerstone for the success of this survey tool, and protect the features that make the process valuable to warfighting commands:
    1. Respondent participation is voluntary. To preserve command discretion and to reinforce that COs know their crew’s workload the best, COs determine whether and when to schedule surveys. Recommended timing is within 90 days of a change of command, and again at nine months after the first survey. However, once a ship initiates the survey process, it shall be completed within 30 days of the start date. This has been proven to:
      • be soon enough in a command tour to be able to take action quickly if there are potential risks,
      • provide for follow up data to figure out if actions taken (risk mitigations) are actually working, and
      • provide the most useful and accurate results while avoiding crew survey fatigue.
    2. Commander's Support. ASCAS and other related surveys on this site are tools for commanding officers. Thus, requests for surveys should be initiated by the unit commander or their designated representative via the secure on-line web survey site: www.shipsafetysurveys.org.
    3. Survey Administration. The online surveys can be taken from any computer, tablet, or phone with Internet access at home or at work. The off-line version of ASCAS requires a couple of dedicated computer terminals in a single site managed by the ship's survey administrator. Other surveys will not have this option for administration. The administrator has a responsibility to ensure anonymity is protected at all times, especially if it is accomplished using the off-line version.
    4. Survey Anonymity. All hands are encouraged to participate. An individual must be free to respond without fear of reprisal, whether the fear is real or perceived. Without this assurance, the data gathered may be inaccurate and of minimal use to the CO. Even worse, crew members may decide not to participate at all. To help ensure responses remain anonymous, demographics collected will be kept to a minimum. We welcome comments, and will keep them word-for-word.
    5. Survey Results are Confidential. Restricted access codes for web-based results and analysis are provided to the CO only, or, if web access is limited, e-mailed only to them. Further access to unit survey results is left to the discretion of the CO. Knowing that all data, answers and analysis stay within the command means COs can fully encourage honest and frank input. The results of individual command surveys are not provided to ISICs to avoid any perception that they are a ship safety report card. However, COs get the best results when they fully engage their command triad, brief their ISIC on where they need outside help or advice, and share highlights with TYCOM Safety personnel to improve the value of later visits in measuring progress. Sharing selected insights with the crew ensures they know that their time used to provide thoughtful input was appreciated and valued. A TYCOM Safety Cell representative reviews these results for survey development and refinement purposes only; they will not be further shared without the CO's knowledge.
    6. Survey Data Ownership. Unit survey results “belong” to the ship commanding officers in their official role. It has proven useful in other warfighting communities that the current CO be able to look at and discuss risk trends during debriefs. For this purpose, the current CO will be allowed access to only the last two survey results of the prior CO, in addition to the current results, whether or not they were in command during that entire time.
    7. Ability of Higher Headquarters to Access Aggregate Data. TYCOM headquarters leadership review only multi-ship aggregated survey data at a macro-level in order to address community-wide issues. Aggregated results will be broken down by the survey company by ship class, homeport, and survey demographics across the Force to examine warfighting community and geographic trends. These summaries will never show unit-level data or results. In fact, if there are fewer than three ships or individual responses in any given category, the aggregate will not be provided. This is necessary to preserve individual anonymity and ship CO confidentiality. ISICs will be provided only this same Force level aggregated information. This high-level review is intended to lead to more effective metrics, action plans, and prevention policies for our Surface Navy that improve warfighting while reducing crew burden.
    8. Ability to Conduct Supervised Research/Analysis of Data - Safety researchers in the academic environment have limited access to data, on an "as-needed" basis, to address issues regarding safety climate and culture.
    9. CNSP/CNSL INSTRUCTION 3500.44A outlines the requirements for conducting the Surface Navy Afloat Culture Workshops (ACWs). If there are inadequate resources to meet ACW demands, the ASCAS survey can be substituted to meet the ACW requirement.

  7. For questions on the survey process, updates on the roll out timeline, or feedback, please contact CNSPSafety@Navy.mil or CNSL_NRFK_Safety@Navy.mil.