ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Satisfaction with U.S. federal government services is finally moving in the right direction.
Following two years of steep drops, and four years of declines overall, citizen satisfaction surges 4.6% to a score of 66.3 (out of 100), according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI®) Federal Government Report 2022.
“While the big gains in 2022 have erased much of the negative movement that began in 2017, aggregate citizen satisfaction with the federal government remains below pre-COVID-19 levels,” says Forrest Morgeson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University and Director of Research Emeritus at the ACSI. “As was the case with the private sector, COVID-19 significantly stressed the federal government’s ability to effectively offer services to citizens, and ultimately eroded happiness with these services. The satisfaction gains in 2022 reversed much of this erosion.”
Half of federal government quality attributes bounce back
All four primary drivers of citizen satisfaction — process, information, customer service, and website — stumbled in 2021. While two of the four continue to decline slightly, the other two increase substantially.
Efficiency and ease of government processes jumps 4.8% to 66 and ease of accessing and clarity of information improves 3.0% to 69. Meanwhile, the courtesy and professionalism of customer service dips 1.4% to 72 and government website quality falters 1.4% to 69.
These small losses, however, are not nearly large enough to prevent a big improvement in overall citizen satisfaction.
Department of the Interior leads the way again
Citizen satisfaction varies widely and significantly across federal departments, with the variation explained in large part by the nature of the department’s missions.
This year, as was the case last year and in many prior years, the Department of the Interior leads the way with a score of 75. A substantial portion of the respondents within the Department of the Interior are visitors to national parks and the National Park Service — a lower-cost and largely satisfying type of experience. The only other federal department that scores near the economy-wide national ACSI average (73.2 as of the third quarter of 2022) is the Department of Agriculture at 73.
On the other hand, two departments score well below both the federal government citizen satisfaction average and the economy-wide national ACSI average: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (62) and the Department of the Treasury (54). Treasury ranks last in citizen satisfaction but given its primary citizen-facing mission is tax collection, this lower rating is not entirely unexpected.
Democrats see strong satisfaction improvement, Republicans also move in right direction
The ACSI federal government study does not measure public approval of specific politicians or political parties. Nevertheless, factors like political party affiliation are likely to influence citizens’ perceptions of the government services they receive, per ACSI data.
Examining trends by party affiliation between 2021 and 2022, Democrats (up 9.2% to 71), Republicans (up 3.1% to 66), and the relatively small group of “Other Party” supporters (up 3.7% to 56) all register gains in citizen satisfaction. The substantial gain in citizen satisfaction among Democrats helps explain the large growth in aggregate, federal government-wide satisfaction and likely reflects these respondents’ greater satisfaction with the current (and aligned) Biden administration during its first full year in office.
Satisfaction among independents — those respondents who indicate no strong political party affiliation — is unchanged at 63.
The ACSI Federal Government Report 2022 is based on interviews with 2,126 users, chosen at random and contacted via email throughout the year. Download the full report, and follow the ACSI on LinkedIn and Twitter at @theACSI.
No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the data and information in this release without the express prior written consent of ACSI LLC.
About the ACSI
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) has been a national economic indicator for over 25 years. It measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of federal and local government agencies. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, scores are based on data from interviews with roughly 500,000 customers annually. For more information, visit www.theacsi.org.
ACSI and its logo are Registered Marks of American Customer Satisfaction Index LLC.