ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--One month after the Office of Management and Budget issued the fourth quarter scorecard with mixed results for the President’s Management Agenda, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) e-Government Satisfaction Index released fourth quarter scores that show only slight improvement and a stagnating trend. Aggregate citizen satisfaction with the 87 federal websites measured improved 0.3 percent from last quarter to 73.9 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. However, the fourth quarter score is unchanged from one year ago. Over the past year, the aggregate e-government satisfaction score has varied by just a half point, after three years of sustained increases.
E-government is one of the five main initiatives measured in the OMB’s quarterly scorecard, but ACSI partner ForeSee Results says the rating is incomplete if it does not reflect citizen satisfaction, because satisfaction is the critical factor in achieving widespread e-government adoption that will streamline delivery of services, improve quality and attain cost-savings.
“As a former CTO, I can tell you that standards, compliance and security are all good things, but a scorecard based only on these components is missing the citizens’ perception of the web experience,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results and author of the ACSI E-Government report. “The most crucial factor in whether e-government will achieve its promise is whether citizens feel it meets their needs and expectations – if not, they’ll stick with more expensive and less convenient ways of dealing with the government. And the only way to know if you’re meeting those goals is through measurement based on direct citizen feedback.”
Compounding the challenges to e-government is that citizen expectations are influenced by the private sector. Citizen expectations are shaped by the sum total of other websites they visit – from Amazon.com to their online banking sites, not only government websites. Amid budgetary constraints, it can be particularly difficult for e-government to keep pace with the deep pockets of the private sector in terms of innovation and improvement.
Comparing functional categories, government websites remained within striking distance of their private sector counterparts also measured by the ACSI. The category of government portals and department main sites scored 74.9, a 0.1 percent increase from last quarter, but 1 percent higher year-over-year. This puts e-government 1.4 percent behind private sector Portals (76). In the News and Information sites category, e-gov scored 72.9 (+0.3% from third quarter and +0.5% year-over-year), virtually even with private sector peers, which dropped 2.7 percent last year to 73.
The one exception is for e-commerce/transactional sites, where strong performance by the private sector resulted in a score of 80, far ahead of e-gov at 74.5 (unchanged from last quarter, but down 1% for the year). This is an important category to monitor as government migrates more business functions, such as forms distribution, registration, and e-commerce, to the web channel. The e-government career/recruitment category scored 77.2, unchanged from last quarter but up 1.6 from a year ago.
Top performing sites continue to set the standards for e-government. One fifth of e-gov sites measured had superior scores of 80 or higher, rivaling top-performing private sector sites such as Google and Amazon. These websites had higher scores for key future behaviors that predict loyalty, such as Likelihood to Return to the site (11.3 percent higher) and Likelihood to Recommend it (18 percent higher) than for sites scoring 70 or below. These future behaviors indicate citizen intention, and better scoring sites will have more success in driving increased web site utilization and improving cost-effectiveness of delivering government information and services.
On the other end of the spectrum, 28 percent of e-government sites fall into the bottom performing category, with scores of 70 or below. These sites struggle to meet citizen needs and lag 11% behind the aggregate e-gov satisfaction score.
E-government finds itself at the crossroads, as it comes under political pressure and financial resources continue to decline. Freed argues that government should renew its commitment to a citizen focus because it is an investment that has tangible as well as intangible benefits.
“Government agencies that listen and respond to citizen feedback have saved millions of dollars in deflected calls and email inquiries by improving their websites’ ability to meet citizen needs,” said Freed. “It is in the interests of both the tax payer and government to improve the quality, access and cost-effectiveness of government services by improving satisfaction with government websites.”
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 ACSI to be a standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction. Over 100 Federal government agencies have used ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction of more than 200 services and programs. The Index is produced by the University of Michigan, in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group, an international consulting firm. ForeSee Results sponsors the e-commerce, e-business, and e-government indexes.
ABOUT FORESEE RESULTS, INC.
ForeSee Results is the market leader in online customer satisfaction measurement and management and specializes in converting satisfaction data into user-driven web development strategies. Using the methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), ForeSee Results has created a model that scientifically quantifies the elements that drive online customer satisfaction and predicts future behaviors, including the likelihood to return to the site or recommend the site to others. A sponsor of the ACSI e-government, e-business, and e-retail reports, ForeSee Results, a privately held company located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, can be found online at www.ForeSeeResults.com.