E-government bolsters satisfaction with federal services

Wednesday - 2/6/2013, 6:32pm EST

For the second year in a row, the number of citizens who report being satisfied with government services rose, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index and ForeSee.

The higher governmentwide score was driven in large part by the increasing satisfaction with government websites, which rounded out the year at near all-time highs.

In addition, more Americans than ever report using e-government services, which also helped boost satisfaction scores.

Still, overall satisfaction with the services the government offers lags behind the private sector's. The federal government's score of 68.4 (on a 100-point scale) places it among the lowest-scoring private-sector offerings. The airline industry and subscription TV services scored lower than the government.

However, that public-private gap has continued to narrow, ACSI reports. And scores for some individual agencies' services rival the private sector when it comes to customer satisfaction.

The Interior Department was the highest-scoring agency with a score 81, followed by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs at 75 points and 74 points, respectively.

With a score of 59, the Treasury Department scored the lowest.

The government's online services have seen more definitive gains. For example, the highest-scoring government websitse — the Social Security Administration's Retirement Estimator and iClaim services — outscore even the highest-performing private-sector site, Amazon.com, according to a separate report from ACSI and ForeSeespecifically on e-government efforts.

Increasingly, citizens are opting to interact with the government online, according to ACSI's research.

Interacting face-to-face by visiting an agency still exhibits the highest levels of satisfaction, ACSI found. But satisfaction scores for communicating with agencies via website and email are creeping upward also.

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