Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results Tuesday released the 2010 year-end E-Government Transparency Index, which confirms that online transparency is a key driver of online satisfaction and overall trust in government for many of the Web sites tracking it. 

The research also shows that e-government transparency has improved slightly since last quarter and is up almost half a point to 76.2 on the study’s 100-point scale. Participation in the Index is up 35 percent this quarter, with 31 federal websites now measuring and reporting quarterly transparency scores.

Federal agency Web sites with high online transparency scores have substantially higher satisfaction overall than sites with low transparency scores. In addition to its impact on customer satisfaction, online transparency is linked to desirable future behaviors such as trust in government, repeat visits to the Web site, word of mouth recommendation, and utilization of the website as a primary resource.  Each of these behaviors has the ability to increase government efficiency by driving traffic toward the Web, the most efficient channel for serving the public.

While online transparency drives satisfaction, trust, and efficiency for e-government overall, it is not necessarily the highest priority for every individual site. Some sites will reap the biggest rewards from focusing on online transparency, while others would be better off improving search, navigation, or site functionality. The diagnosis varies from site to site.

“Some federal sites will see huge returns from making small improvements to online transparency; others can maintain the status quo and focus on other things,” said the study’s author, Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results.  “But measuring transparency is the first step, because you can’t manage it if you don’t measure it.”

The E-Government Transparency Index uses the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index to measure the impact of various Web site elements, including content, functionality, site performance, look and feel, navigation, search, and transparency on citizen satisfaction. The study is based on a survey of more than 320,000 United States citizens who visited federal Web sites over the course of 2010.

The Q2 2010 E-Government Transparency Index is available as a free download at


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