New Report Targets Criteria For E-Gov Improvement

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Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results Tuesday issued its quarterly report on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s E-Government Satisfaction Index, which recommends that the .gov Task Force consider traffic, the amount of redundancy, and citizen experience as criteria for making their decision on how to consolidate e-gov Web sites and reduce duplication.

President Obama’s General Order 13571, “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service,” part of the administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, requires federal agencies to save taxpayers money and time by eliminating or consolidating redundant Web sites and improving outdated, difficult to use, or poorly maintained sites.

The .gov Task Force is the group charged with deciding which Web sites are least necessary.

“The Campaign to Cut Waste is badly needed,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand how frustrating it can be for citizens to go in search of information but come back empty handed because there is simply too much badly organized, redundant information out there. Federal Web sites have done so much work to improve the user experience over the last 10 years, and streamlining the system could take user satisfaction to the next level.”

The research released Tuesday, which quantifies the cause-and-effect relationship between proactive changes to government Web sites and citizen satisfaction, makes a clear and compelling case that the means for the government to decide which websites to consolidate and which to eliminate are already at their disposal. The ACSI, which was chosen by the federal government to be a standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction in 1999, represents the most comprehensive and exhaustive data available for decision-making of this kind.

This quarter’s report indicates that visitors to the measured sites are generally happy with their experience. For the seventh consecutive quarter, satisfaction with e-government as a whole remained over 75; the Index score for the second quarter of 2011 was 75.5.

“While the E-Government Satisfaction Index’s plateau has perhaps lulled some observers into a false sense of security, the data continues to show that there is always room for improvement,” said University of Michigan professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI and author of “The Satisfied Customer.”  “This is seen nowhere better than in the scores of the Index’s leaders, which until recently trailed the private sector. While the majority of the agencies still lag behind the commercial world, others are surging ahead, a development few thought likely.”

Facebook, one of the Internet’s most popular sites, has a satisfaction score nearly 20 points below the E-Government Index’s highest performers (Facebook’s ACSI score is 66 and the best-performing government sites score in the high 80’s and even reach 90). Even Google (82), a perennial favorite, is being outperformed by 10 percent of all government sites analyzed.

A full list of individual website scores along with more discussion of trends is available in the Q2 2011 ACSI E-Government Satisfaction Index, available as a free download at www.foreseeresults.com.

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