Transparency Helps E-Government Increase Citizen Satisfaction

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A new study shows American citizens are quite satisfied with federal government Web sites that provide a range of services, from securing benefits to serving as a resource for research and information.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Government Index climbed 0.8 percent to 75.3 on a 100-point scale, among the highest scores ever recorded and about the same as it was a year ago.

A key driver of satisfaction with federal Web sites is online transparency, and there is aggregate evidence of improvement in this area as federal agencies work to comply with the Open Government Initiative. According to the ForeSee Results-Nextgov Government Transparency Study released last week, increased transparency leads to citizen satisfaction and trust in government.

“Citizens are consumers of government services, and what makes them so satisfied about federal websites is that they are generally able to find what they want and accomplish what they have set out to do,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “This provides a win-win for citizens: easier and more accessible information and services at a lower cost to taxpayers.”

High satisfaction with federal government websites increases the likelihood that citizens will trust and participate in government, among other benefits.

According to the study, highly satisfied citizens (those who score 80 or higher in satisfaction) rate their trust in the government unit 58 percent higher than dissatisfied citizens.

Also, these highly satisfied citizens are:

* 55 percent more likely to participate in government;
* 80 percent more likely to use the website as a primary resources, as opposed to other more costly channels like a call center; and
* 52 percent more likely to return to the website.

E-Government continues its dominance in overall government in terms of customer satisfaction. The Q3 2010 e-government score was 10 percent higher than the overall federal government score of 68.7 measured in the fourth quarter of 2009.

“There is often a disconnect between citizens’ personal experience with the federal government online and offline. Online sectors of the economy typically perform better than offline sectors in terms of customer satisfaction, and with government services it is no different,” said Claes Fornell, founder of ACSI and a business professor at the University of Michigan.

Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results employed the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index to survey more than 275,000 visitors to 113 federal Web sites in the third quarter of 2010. The full study reports individual scores for each of the 113 Web sites on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. A copy of the report is available at www.ForeSeeResults.com.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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