WASHINGTON -- Leaders of several groups represnting the nation's elderly complained Thursday about the administration's follow-up survey to the White House Conference on Aging.
Leaders of the 25 groups called the ballot mailed to about 4,000 delegates and alternates 'almost impossible to decipher' and said it was a 'shameful waste of tax dollars that could never yield meaningful results.'
The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition with combined memberships of about 209 million, said the survey 'could not conceivably achieve' its objective of giving participant a chance to comment on the recommendations of 14 conference committees and to have the responses considered in the writing of a final conference report.
The group said after the conference ended it asked Health and Human Services Secretary Richard Schweiker to let them have a hand in shaping the survey. It said the only response it had was getting a copy of the document listing the various resolutions that had been adopted along with the survey form.
Despite its criticism of the handling of the follow-up survey, the group reiterated its generally favorable reaction to the recommendations of the various committees.
Among the group's requests were that an impartial third party be asked to compile the survey's results.
The group said participants were 'buried in paper' with a 275-page, unnumbered listing of resolution texts and instructions on filling out the response forms is vague.
And, it said, each response page requires a signature, 'which may discourage many participants from being as candid as they would be otherwise.'
Also, said the organization, most responses on individual recommendations are open-ended rather than objective, making it hard to respond 'and impossible to tabulate responses.'
Each participant, said the group, is confronted with having to write comments on nearly 800 separate committee recommendations, supplemental questions and individual views.
'It's like being asked to answer 800 essay questions,' a spokesman for the group said.