Feds' health, job sites score well

The American Customer Satisfaction Index

Federal health and job recruiting Web sites are among the top e-government performers, even rivaling some of the top commercial sites, according to a survey released today.

Health information sites, such as the Department of Health and Human Services' MedlinePlus, and job sites such as the CIA's career site and the Office of Personnel Management's USAJobs, scored high marks and showed improvements in customer service, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Government Satisfaction Index shows.

The voluntary quarterly survey measured 44 agency Web sites -- nine more sites than the last review. The ACSI e-government report is produced by the University of Michigan in partnership with the American Society for Quality, CFI Group and ForeSee Results.

"Americans have had increasing access to huge quantities of medical information thanks to the Internet," said Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results, in an analysis of the survey. "Amid all these choices, federal government sites are doing a very good job of being a preferred source of information."

HHS' site earned an 86 on the 100-point scale, the highest score of any e-government site measured and only two points below Amazon.com, according to the report. A Spanish-language version of MedlinePlus and the National Women's Health Information Center's site (www.4woman.gov) also received high marks.

Among government job sites, the CIA's job site scored an 80, and the State Department's job site scored a 79. Both performed well compared to private-sector job sites.

The main government job site, USAJobs, scored a 73, which leaves room for improvement but indicates progress since its relaunch last fall, according to the report.

"The pressure is on for government personnel recruitment Web sites to do their jobs well," Freed said. "The scores indicate that recruiting Web sites are meeting the challenge and filling a vital national need."

Overall, the survey shows that each of the four categories -- e-commerce, informational/news, portals/department main sites and recruitment/careers -- the sites surveyed showed improvement since the last quarter's report. Forty-three percent of the sites showed improved customer satisfaction, and 9 percent scored 80 or higher.

"The e-government sites measured exhibit a significant impact on the site visitor's likelihood to both continue to use the sites and recommend to the others in the future," Freed said. "This is a great sign of success of the e-government sites and helps to continue to provide justification for the continued attention and investment that the sites receive."

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