David J. Levin
A “Neutral” position’s utility on a likert scale is contextually based.
1) The more divisive the issue, the more respondents will desire it as an option to avoid commiting to a side.
2) The more well-known the issue, the less need for a respondnet’s reliance on neutral as a safe response.
In the case of government employee/government customer satisfaction surveys, 4 and 5 point scales will be largely equivalent when you are dealing with low controversy, well known topics. As the topics range away from this, the differential in results between a 4 and a 5 point scale will increase.
So to take a hard line methodologically may not be necessary, if you know the two will be functionally equivalent for your topic.