From Data to Diversity

The Demographics of New Jersey's Appointed Officials

Data Collection Methodology

To follow the legislation’s directive, CAWP and CPIP developed a survey to be sent to all state appointees about the appointed positions they hold and their ethnicity, race, and gender. We recognize there are many demographic criteria that would provide a deeper understanding of the appointee population, such as age, education levels, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and parenthood status, among others. For this project's purposes, we adhered to the directive in the legislation regarding which criteria to include. We do, however, believe that broadening the survey instrument to include more criteria would be valuable.

Using the list compiled via various sources and department head contacts as mentioned in the process findings section below, ECPIP proceeded with survey design and distribution. The sample frame included unique officials who were appointed to statewide and regional boards and commissions (N=2266). Among appointed officials, 97 individuals held more than one appointment. The sample frame of appointed officials does not cover all officials serving on boards and commissions as some board appointments were vacant, some boards were inactive, and some did not have current membership lists. The online survey instrument that appointees received was pre-populated with known data already in the contact list, such as name, board name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number. Respondents were first asked to verify or revise this information. Then, they were asked when they first started serving in their current position and the length of the term of appointment. Finally, respondents were asked their ethnicity, race, and gender. The estimated time to complete the survey was three to five minutes.

The survey was fielded between September 2, 2022 and June 14, 2023, with data collected in multiple waves that employed a mixed-mode recruitment design – including emails, phone, and text messaging – in an effort to increase response rates. The total sample frame of those with valid email and cell phone contacts was 2266 with a response rate of 22%.

Post survey, we took several measures to fill in demographic information not sourced directly from survey responses. These measures included utilizing existing CAWP datasets, proxy coding, conducting direct outreach to appointees or their staff contacts, and verification using publicly available sources (such as appointees official biographies or news coverage about the appointee). 

Finally, due to the governor’s conditional veto of the legislation striking the language requiring the governor or other appointing authority to give CAWP notice within 30 days of an individual being appointed and transmitting to that individual a demographic questionnaire that would be provided to CAWP, it is not possible to track updates created by new appointments or appointees leaving their positions. Absent direct involvement by state government, the best-case scenario is a database that provides a “point in time” snapshot of representation as of summer 2022.