Survey credits E-gov initiatives with increasing satisfaction with federal Web site

Satisfaction with federal Web sites improved for the third consecutive quarter, demonstrating that the Bush administration’s E-government initiatives are making an impact even though satisfaction with the government overall dropped, according to the latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

On a 100-point scale, the 89 Web sites measured in the survey during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 attained an aggregate score of 71.3, a slight increase from last quarter and a 2.5 percent increase from this time last year.

Within that total, 16 sites scored an 80 or better, considered a superior score for any portal in the public or private sector. Among those sites, 11 are operated by the Health and Human Services Department.

“Federal E-government is continuing to make improvements to better satisfy users,” said Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan and founder of the ACSI. “Government Web sites still lag their private-sector counterparts by a significant margin, but they are reducing the satisfaction gap with the private sector.”

The report is based on a quarterly performance survey conducted by the American Society for Quality in conjunction with the University of Michigan, the CFI Group and ForeSee Results of Ann Arbor, Mich. Participation by government agencies is voluntary.

Aside from HHS, other agencies with strong performance include the General Services Administration, the Social Security Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.

According to Larry Freed, author of the report and president and CEO of ForeSee Results, the scores are more remarkable because citizen satisfaction with government overall declined by 1.1 percent. This means E-government initiatives are having a positive impact, he said.

“Continued improvements in E-government citizen satisfaction are not surprising, considering that federal Web sites are continuing to evolve into critical channels for good government,” Freed wrote.

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