Citizen Satisfaction with Feds at Eight-Year High
Citizen satisfaction with the federal government hit an eight-year high, according to the annual federal government report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released recently. After a slight decline in 2005, the aggregate federal government satisfaction score improved 1.4 percent to 72.3 in 2006 on the ACSI 100-point scale.
ACSI research cites increased efficiency and easier access to government services as the main factors contributing to more satisfaction with the federal government. “Ease of Access to and Use of Programs”, one of the measured elements that composes the overall satisfaction score, improved 4 percent to 78. “Service Timeliness” improved by the same percentage to 75. These new all-time high scores for federal government services more than offset a slight dip in “Courtesy” and “Professionalism”, which both dropped 1 percent to 86 and 85, respectively.
“Users of government programs have long rated the courtesy and professionalism of government personnel highly, but this year, improved execution made the difference in citizen satisfaction,” said University of Michigan Professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI. “Our research shows that satisfaction is essential to the goal of building trust in government. Government initiatives to improve performance create greater levels of citizen satisfaction, which can in turn improve the public trust.”
Aggregate satisfaction with the federal government may be higher, but improvement was not universal. Among the two-dozen agency segments measured both this year and last, 50 percent showed improved satisfaction, while 42 percent saw a decline and eight percent were unchanged. One of the agencies that scored as well as some of the best private sector companies is U.S. Mint for its buyers of numismatic and commemorative coins. Its score of 87 ties high-profile e-retailers Amazon.com (87) and BarnesandNoble.com (87).
On the other end of the spectrum is the perennially low-scoring IRS measure of Individual Paper Tax Filers, which scored 51. Satisfaction for electronic tax filers is much higher at 76. As the IRS succeeds in moving more tax filers to an electronic format, satisfaction has improved every year. In 2006, the average of all individual tax filers combined is up 2 percent to an all-time high of 65.
“What’s been consistently more satisfying every year is the process of filing the tax return and the success of the e-filing program,” said Fornell. “Most tax payers do get a refund at the end of the process, which doesn’t hurt.”
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.
For more information, visit: www.theasci.org