Mobility push intensifies for e-government

The public has gone mobile, and experts say the government should redouble its efforts to become mobile-friendly.

“There is so much innovation happening in the private sector around mobile, and the federal government is playing catch up,” said Dave Lewan, vice president of public sector business at ForeSee, customer experience analytics company.

Overall, the federal government is still getting good ratings from citizens, according to the American E-Government Consumer Satisfaction Index, which gathered input from nearly 300,000 surveys in the second quarter. However, most websites’ satisfaction ratings have remained flat for 11 of the last 12 quarters. E-government satisfaction has not varied more than a half point in that time.

If agencies make themselves accessible on multiple platforms, the government’s e-government customer approval rates will only go up, Lewan said.

“The Digital Government initiative just may be the boost the public sector needs,” he said.

The Obama administration is pushing a mobile government. In May, the Office of Management and Budget released the “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People” strategy. It requires agencies to convert two priority citizen services to a mobile platform in the next year.

“That’s going to light the fire that will expand broadly,” said Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel in May.

Citizens already interact with friends and family, companies and brands on multiple platforms. They will soon expect such interaction with Washington.

“The federal government needs to connect with its users on multiple platforms or risk alienating them,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

Measuring citizens' perception

Administration officials want agencies to know how the citizenry views their Internet presence. According to the Digital Strategy, agencies are also required to use analytics and customer satisfaction measurement tools on all “.gov” websites by this fall. The goal is to enable data-driven decisions on service performance. Most agencies currently do not have enterprise-wide performance measures to test the usability and success of their websites.

For customers’ current insights, citizens are pleased with federal websites. Satisfaction with the websites climbed to a new all-time high of 75.6 on ACSI’s 100-point scale. Citizen satisfaction with e-government is significantly higher than with the overall federal government. The overall government scored 66.9 in ACSI’s 2011 report. The record high for e-government satisfaction set this quarter is just 0.3 points below the National ACSI score, which is the average of all private companies measured by the ACSI.

More than a third of federal websites measured in the E-Government Satisfaction Index scored 80 or higher, the threshold for superior performance. Three websites from Social Security Administration top the list: iClaim website, which earned a score of 92, Retirement Estimator website, which reached 90, and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs, which also had a 90. Websites such as these are in the e-commerce/transactional category, which scores 78. News and information websites score 76 as a category, while portal/department main sites score 74.

“Improving the mobile experience may be the only way for e-government satisfaction to climb from its current plateau,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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