Americans find happy medium in e-government

Citizens are happier to go online to interact with the federal government than ever before, according to the latest citizen satisfaction report released today.

In the last three months of 2008, citizen satisfaction in federal online initiatives reached an all-time high of 74.1 on a 100-point scale, according to the report by ForeSee Results, a company that researches online customer satisfaction.

ForeSee president and CEO Larry Freed said in a statement that he was especially hopeful about the future of federal e-government in light of the election of Barack Obama. The tech-savvy new president has shown a commitment to technology and the Internet that will lead to "new policies, executive orders, funding and legislation that will improve the ability of federal departments, agencies and programs to serve citizens online," Freed said.

ForeSee Results uses the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a methodology that rates both online and offline federal government departments and agencies.

A year earlier, the ACSI index was 72.9.

Twenty-two of the 95 federal sites measured scored in the "top performers" category, with scores of 80 or higher.

The Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator came in first for the second quarter in a row, scoring 89. Two other SSA sites came in second and third, respectively: Help with Medicare Prescription Plan Costs and SSA iClaim.

The Health and Human Services Department also earned high marks. Eight of 17 HHS sites received scores of 80 or higher.

To put the scores in a larger business context, Amazon rates an ACSI score of 88, Google earns an 86 and eBay pulls an 81.

Topping the most improved category is the Internal Revenue Service’s main Web site, which moved up eight points from the previous quarter.

The report also discerned a boost in the satisfaction citizens reported in e-commerce sites, which have scored a 4 percent increase in citizen satisfaction. When the survey began five years ago, only one federal Web site was in this category: the U.S. Mint, which sold coins online. Now the federal government offers 13 e-commerce sites.

Career recruitment sites such as the Office of Personnel Management’s USAjobs.gov site fell slightly from last year. The OPM job site scored a 74, and the overall category is down a point from the last quarter of 2007.

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About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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