E-gov satisfaction score stalls, ASCI finds

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The aggregate e-government satisfaction score for the federal government has remained fairly stagnant in the past year after three years of sustained increases, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index released today.

Aggregate citizen satisfaction with the 87 federal Web sites measured improved only 0.3 percent from the third quarter to 73.9 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. However, the fourth-quarter score is unchanged from one year ago.

Satisfaction is the critical factor in achieving widespread e-government adoption that will streamline delivery of services and attain cost savings, said Larry Freed, author of the ASCI E-Government Report.

The Office of Management and Budget issued its Executive Branch Management Score Card for the fourth quarter with mixed results in the e-government category. But OMB’s score card lacks input from citizens on their satisfaction, which would make the score card complete, Freed said.

“Standards, compliance and security are all good things, but a score card based only on these components is missing the citizens’ perception of the Web experience,” said Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results.

Other reports have made the same conclusion.

As of Sept. 30, four agencies’ scores on OMB's score card dropped and six improved. Of those six, the Transportation Department and the Small Business Administration jumped from the lowest score to the highest.

Freed said e-government is in a unique position as it comes under increasing political pressure and financial resources continue to decline. He said the government should renew its commitment to a citizen focus because it is an investment that has tangible and intangible benefits.

“Government agencies that listen and respond to citizen feedback have saved millions of dollars in deflected calls and e-mail inquiries by improving their Web sites’ ability to meet citizen needs,” Freed said.

But government has several challenges to e-government. The private sector’s online services raise citizen expectations. Amid budgetary constraints, government may find it hard to keep up with the private sector’s money for innovation and improvement, Freed said.

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