Agency sites gain favor with users
The business of government Web sites is business. That's one conclusion you could draw from the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, released recently by the University of Michigan.
The ACSI report found a slight improvement in citizen satisfaction with federal Web sites, particularly when they allow for e-commerce. The greatest improvement was in the e-commerce and transactions category, which increased to 73.7 out of 100.
Despite the improvement, federal Web sites still score lower on the ACSI scale than private-sector Web sites.
E-government earned ACSI scores 8.5 percent lower overall than private-sector e-commerce sites, which garnered average ACSI marks of 80.
Satisfaction with federal Web sites improves when the sites offer more opportunities for online business transactions, ACSI analysts said. USA.gov, for example, the federal government's official Web portal, offers more than 150 online transactions.
'The government recognizes that time-crunched Americans want to conduct business with the government when and where it's convenient for them,' said Bev Godwin, director of USA.gov. 'Self-service is a growing trend across industries, and we are making great strides towards addressing this need by focusing on the top tasks of our Web visitors.'
The main area listed for improvement was search, which was cited as an area that needs improvement in almost 90 percent of federal Web sites.
People need to be able to find what they're looking for if a Web site is going to be useful, said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, a co-sponsor of the report. 'This is an especially tough challenge for portals and department sites because they provide access to such extensive amounts of information, often across multiple Web sites.'
The National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration earned top scores for several of their Web sites ' including, in NIH's case, several sites in Spanish. A sample of some of the high scores appears to the left.