Users find federal Web sites less satisfying

Federal Web sites are meeting fewer of the public's needs, according to a new report released today from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

ForeSee Results, which co-sponsors the index, found 35 percent of the 59 federal Web sites surveyed showed a decline in customer satisfaction and 33 percent remained flat in the first quarter of 2005 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2004. Research also revealed that 31 percent of the Web sites increased their customer satisfaction scores.

Overall, the ACSI declined to 71.9 from 72.1 on a 100-point scale.

'The leveling off of satisfaction growth in the e-government sector is reflected in the private-sector Web sites as well,' said Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center at Michigan University and founder of the ACSI. 'As citizens' standards for evaluating their Web site experiences rise, government Web managers must continue to make improvements to sustain satisfaction gains.'

MedlinePlus.gov, a site maintained by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, received the highest overall score of 87. MedlinePlus in Spanish also scored highly at 83.

The Health and Human Services Department's 4woman.gov, the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Mint Web sites all received scores over 80. The National Library of Medicine's AIDSinfo site improved 5.2 percent to 80.

The overall decline in customer satisfaction comes three months after the Office of Management and Budget released guidelines for agency Web sites.

The survey found that search and navigation continue to give citizens trouble, and received scores of 72 and 71, respectively. On the other hand, users said agencies are doing a good job with privacy, giving it a score of 81.

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