Americans Happy With Gov’t Websites

Posted by at 2:12 pm on February 3, 2009

Federal websites continue a trend of improving satisfaction, reaching a new all-time high in the fourth quarter according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Government Satisfaction Index. The report, released today from the University of Michigan and e-government sponsor ForeSee Results, finds that citizen satisfaction climbs 0.3% from last quarter to 74.1 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. The E-Gov Index improves 1.6% from the fourth quarter 2007, and is 4.5% higher than the first Index measure five years ago.

The improvement of e-government over the last year is due largely to an increase in the performance of federal e-commerce and transactional sites, which improved an impressive 4% over the last year. Of the four major categories of federal government websites (which also include portals/department main sites, news/information, and career/recruitment) e-commerce/transaction sites have been the best performing for the last two quarters.

“The high levels of satisfaction with e-commerce and transactional federal websites indicate citizens’ eagerness, willingness, and enthusiasm to take advantage of online government services,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results and author of the report. “President Obama, who as a candidate harnessed the power of the Internet better than any before him, recognizes e-gov’s ability to engage, inform, and serve, and he should give it the resources needed to fulfill that potential.”

Although e-government continues to lag private sector websites, citizen satisfaction with e-government far surpasses satisfaction with the federal government overall. Offline federal government scored 68.9 in the latest annual ACSI report on satisfaction with the federal government, which was released in December 2008.

“Doing business with the government online delivers convenience that is unparalleled in the offline world,” said Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan. “While e-government may never catch up with its private sector counterparts, improving e-government satisfaction may be the most cost-effective way of improving government satisfaction as a whole.”

The improvements are noteworthy because higher satisfaction increases use of federal websites and leads to greater efficiency in serving citizens. Highly satisfied citizens are 86% more likely than dissatisfied citizens to use an agency’s website as a primary resource before using a call center or visit a branch office.

“Although the Index has reached an all-time high, there is room for improvement,” added Freed. “E-Government is unique in its ability to address the Obama administration’s stated priorities of communication, transparency and participation, so I expect that e-gov will continue to improve if given the proper attention and resources it deserves.”

“I am proud of the work that web managers across government have done to assess and improve websites based on customers’ perspectives. Their willingness to be open, transparent and accountable has much to do with increasing customer satisfaction with their websites,” said Ronald M. Oberbillig, acting director of the Federal Consulting Group. “Other drivers include a community that enthusiastically shares lessons learned and best practices across government.”

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