North Slope Social Indicators Survey


What is this project about?

This project is measuring the well-being of North Slope residents. It is important because their well-being may be affected by offshore oil and gas exploration and development. Monitoring well-being will help identify and mitigate impacts.

The federal agency responsible for managing offshore energy development is now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM (formerly the MMS). BOEM is legally mandated for “overseeing the safe and environmentally responsible development of energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.” As part of this mandate, BOEM contracted with Stephen R. Braund & Associates (SRB&A) to design and conduct a survey of North Slope residents.

To measure the well-being of North Slope Residents, SRB&A conducted 684 interviews in January through March 2016 with a head of household in Barrow, Nuiqsut, Wainwright, Point Hope, Point Lay, and Kaktovik. In Barrow the research team randomly sampled one in three households. All interviews were voluntary. Some people selected declined to participate. The overall response rate was 79 percent.

Haven't North Slope residents been surveyed on their well-being before?

Yes! In 1977 the North Slope Borough (NSB) and the University of Alaska worked together on the first survey of North Slope Borough residents. The NSB included questions from this 1977 survey in subsequent census surveys run by the Borough such as the one the Borough conducted in 1988. In 2003 all NSB communities participated in the international Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA). And in 2007 active subsistence harvesters in Barrow, Nuiqsut, Wainwright, and Atqasuk participated in the NSB North Slope Social Impact Study. This study included a subset of SLiCA social indicators.

The North Slope Social Indicators Project is designed to build on the work of these previous studies by including the best indicators from them. That way it will be possible to compare the current well-being of residents with their well-being in 2003, 1988, and even as far back as 1977. It will also be possible to monitor changes in well-being in the future.

What is the current status of the project?

The North Slope Social Indicators Study began with a request for proposals (RFP) by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in July of 2011 to conduct a household survey in six North Slope villages: Barrow, Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, Point Lay, Wainwright, and Point Hope. In the RFP, BOEM stated, “It will provide updated sociocultural and economic baseline data for oil and gas in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea.” BOEM awarded the study contract to Stephen R. Braund and Associates (SRB&A) in October 2011. In November 2011 SRB&A submitted a research plan to BOEM. The plan based the research design on previous social indicator research on the North Slope including a 1977 joint project of the North Slope Borough and the University of Alaska, the 2003 international Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA), and the 2007 North Slope Social Impact Study sponsored by the North Slope Borough and conducted by SRB&A.

As in the case of SLiCA, the research plan called for the formation of an oversight board to make decisions on the final questionnaire and study design. SRB&A asked Taqulik Hepa, Director of the NSB Department of Wildlife Management, to chair the North Slope Management Board (NSMB). Board members include: Fenton Rexford (Kaktovik), Marie Tracey (Point Lay), George Sielak (Nuiqsut), the late Johnny Aiken (AEWC), Steve Oomittuk (Point Hope), and John Hopson Jr. (Wainwright). The North Slope Management Board and members of the SRB&A project team (Steve Braund, Jack Kruse and Marg Kruse) met in Barrow April 3-4, 2012. Steve Oomittuk and John Hopson Jr. were unable to attend. Steve Oomittuk talked with Jack Kruse by phone after the meeting.

The NSMB reviewed the methods used by SRB&A to arrive at a suggested set of questions for the household survey. The Board decided that, “The purpose of the North Slope Social Indicators Project is to measure the well-being of North Slope residents so that any impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration and development can be identified and mitigated.” The Board then made revisions to the questionnaire. Finally, the NSMB reviewed the contents of the project website,  

SRB&A submitted the revised questionnaire to BOEM May 29, 2012. Between June and August 2012 SRB&A responded to a series of questionnaire revision requests by the Alaska office of BOEM. In September Taqulik Hepa sent the revised questionnaire and a summary of changes out to NSMB members for approval. The NSMB approved the revised questionnaire.

SRB&A pretested the questionnaire in September and October of 2012 and delivered a pretest report to BOEM in November 2012. The Alaska office of BOEM submitted the questionnaire and supporting documentation to its Washington D.C. office in November 2012. The approval process called for review by BOEM’s central office, then the Department of Interior, and finally the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Also required were 30 and 60 day notices published in the Federal Register, and a Privacy Act assessment. OMB approved the survey in February 2015. We contacted the North Slope Management Board for a final review of the questionnaire. We then contacted communities to ask for their approval to conduct the survey in their community and to consult with them on the best time to conduct the survey.

We conducted the survey in January-March 2016. We have entered the data from all the interviews are beginning the analysis of the results. The research team will review preliminary results with the North Slope Management Board to be sure that each of the questions worked well so that results can be reported. Members of the North Slope Management Board can access the preliminary results by clicking on the heading below "North Slope Management Board" and entering the password we give you.

North Slope Management Board (password protected)

How can I learn more about the project?

Below are links to documents that will tell you more about the project. We will add to the list as documents are developed.

You can also email Steve Braund or Jack Kruse.

Project Documents

Prior Study Documents