E-Government Coup

For the first time, customer satisfaction with federal agency Websites has surpassed offline government services, an American Customer Satisfaction Index report showed Thursday.

According to the annual 100-point index — a joint effort by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the American Society of Quality, CFI Group, and the Treasury Department’s Federal Consulting Group — e-government reached a record-high 73.9 satisfaction rate, improving 2.5% over last year. By contrast, satisfaction with offline government services fell 1.1% to 72.1, the first drop in three years and in line with a more general decline in satisfaction with private-sector services.

But where the gap between offline public and private services has narrowed, the report said, e-government is trailing far behind the private sector online. That, said ACSI chief Claes Fornell, shows room for improvement: “They still have ground to close,” he said.

Part of that distance, Fornell added, will be made up by initiatives like the E-Government Act of 2002, which seeks to improve online federal resources.