Federal health and job sites rival commercial sites

Some government Web sites equal their commercial counterparts in delivering a positive online experience to users, new survey results released today show.

Government health information sites followed by recruiting sites, particularly in specialized fields such as State Department and CIA jobs, topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Government Report.

The report is based on a survey conducted quarterly by the University of Michigan and the American Society for Quality, CFI Group and ForeSee Results, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The ACSI e-government index currently measures users satisfaction with 44 federal sites in four categories and is expanding. Participation by agencies is voluntary.

All categories of sites measured across government improved, but portals and agency main Web sites resulted in the least-impressive scores.

Meeting the multiple expectations of diverse audiences effectively remains a largely elusive goal, and these sites, in general, are still early in their evolution, the report said. The report currently includes only two transactional sites, not enough to get a good snapshot of governmentwide performance in this area.

'E-government does better, in general, when it has a very specific purpose and real focus,' said Larry Freed, chief executive officer of ForeSee Results. 'Portals, sites that impose regulatory burdens and sites with highly specialized technical audiences all face tough challenges.'

The CIA careers site registered an 80 on the index's 100-point scale, six points above the national average for all services measured by the index. The CIA's score is better than most commercial Web sites, Freed said. The State Department's careers site showed similar strength, with a score of 79.

The government's comprehensive careers portal, www.usajobs.opm.gov, earned 73 points, while serving more than 6 million visitors per month, which is comparable to similar commercial sites the index team has analyzed.

Government health sites surpassed the commercial sector, the report said. MedlinePlus, a general health site operated by the National Institutes of Health, earned a score of 86, just a shave behind e-commerce behemoth, Amazon.com, which in a recent ACSI report registered 88 points.

Users find government health sites include the specific information they want, and there is a level of detail that may be hard to find elsewhere, Freed said.

The sites generally get high marks for accessibility because they use navigation systems similar to what users are accustomed to from commercial sites. MedlinePlus' Spanish-language version is doing nearly as well as the English version.

ACSI is the government's standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction with government sites. The Federal Consulting Group, a franchise within the Treasury Department, is the federal government's ASCI liaison.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

inside gcn

  • When cybersecurity capabilities are paid for, but untapped

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group