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Claes Fornell
  Claes Fornell

Satisfaction with Government Web Sites on The Rise

12/27/2005 --

The ACSI's e-government report shows that Americans are happier with government Web sites than with the federal government itself.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Government Web sites scored higher in citizen satisfaction than the federal government overall for the first time ever on the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The fourth quarter e-government ACSI increased 2.5 percent since this time last year to 73.9. Overall federal government, which is measured by the ACSI annually in the fourth quarter, scored 71.3.

Quarter over quarter, the ACSI e-government scores climbed a relatively small 0.6 percent, but the increase is the third in as many quarters. Last year, overall government and e-government scores were tied at 72.1.

"Federal e-government is continuing to make improvements to better satisfy users," said ACSI founder Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center and professor at Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business. "Government Web sites still lag their private sector counterparts by a significant margin, but they are reducing the satisfaction gap with the private sector."

ACSI satisfaction scores are based on a 100-point scale and are calculated through a sophisticated formula based on surveys of site users that measure the impact of increasing customer satisfaction on future consumer behavior, such as likelihood to return to the Web site and recommend it to others.

One Web site to implement user satisfaction research is that of the U.S. General Services Administration. Formerly one of the ACSI's poorest performers, the GSA has made several incremental changes to its Web site based on citizen-user research. In one year's time, its citizen satisfaction score improved more than 20 percent, and this quarter's score of 67 is three points higher than last quarter.

Overall, participation in the ACSI is up and now includes 89 federal Web sites. About 18 percent of the measured sites scored 80 or better, a superior score for any Web site, private or public sector, Fornell said. A year ago, only 13 percent of e-government sites scored 80 or above. In the private sector, 27 percent of service industry Web sites scored at least 80.

At the other end of the spectrum, 21 percent of the e-government sites this quarter had scores below 70, which is indicative of the struggle many agencies face in bringing their information and operations online, Fornell said.

"Even though these agencies have taken the first step to solicit direct citizen feedback, they may not have the resources at hand to implement the changes that will improve citizen satisfaction," he said. "Also, putting agency information on the Web can vastly expand the number of citizens that seek out the information, which poses the challenge of educating new users about how to navigate, understand and use the sites."

Once again, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institute of Health dominated the strong performers, and the Social Security Administration had three of the top performing Web sites. Several federal agencies have Web sites measured in the ACSI, including the CIA, FDIC, FEMA, Department of Justice, General Accounting Office, Social Security Administration and USDA. A complete list of ACSI e-government scores is available at

About the ACSI

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only uniform, national, cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of goods and services available in the United States. In 1999, the federal government selected the ACSI to be a standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction. More than 50 federal government agencies have used the ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction of more than 100 services and programs.

The index is produced by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in partnership with the American Society for Quality and CFI Group, an international consulting firm. ForeSee Results sponsors the e-commerce, e-business and e-government indices. The Federal Consulting Group, a franchise within the Department of the Treasury, is the executive agent for the ACSI and the federal government.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847