E-gov sites score high on user satisfaction survey

A quarterly survey of 22 federal e-government sites has rated their customer satisfaction higher than for some offline government functions.

The federal sites, however, received slightly lower scores than the national average of a general-purpose satisfaction index.

The survey covered 22 federal sites that use the American Customer Satisfaction Index developed by the University of Michigan.

On a 100-point scale, the first E-Government Satisfaction Index came in at 70.9. Offline government agencies scored an average of 70.2. The national customer-satisfaction index for all providers of goods and services was 73.8.

Federal sites surveyed included the FirstGov portal, four State Department sites, the Treasury Department's main site, and the Corporation for National and Community Service's AmeriCorps site and two other volunteer programs.

The highest-scoring federal site, the National Women's Health Information Center run by the Health and Human Services Department, at www.4women.gov, had a satisfaction score of 83.

That the women's health site scored higher than several prominent private sites and on a par with Amazon.com and the Google search engine indicates 'how successful online government has already been in satisfying customers,' said Larry Freed, president of ForeSee Results Inc. of Farmington Hills, Mich.

Perceived trustworthiness gives dot-gov sites an advantage over the private sector, Freed said.
'In the sea of questionable sources on the Internet today, government information sources tend to provide stability, comfort and reliability sought after by Internet users everywhere,' Freed said.

ForeSee Results, the University of Michigan, the American Society for Quality and CFI Group of Ann Arbor, Mich., jointly conducted the survey. Freed's company has provided customer-satisfaction survey software for several agencies.

Others that scored above average on the government survey were the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service site, State's main and career Web sites, FirstGov, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion site at www.healthfinder.gov, NASA's home page, and the NASA Education Program and Spacelink site.

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