Government Web sites rank higher than private sector
Overall citizen satisfaction with government Web sites reached new levels during the last four months, as the aggregate government score nudged ahead of the private sector mark for goods and services in the third quarter of 2005.
A 1.2 percent growth in the satisfaction index - from 72.6 to 73.5 - represents a 3.2 percent increase from September 2004 and is at an all-time high. The cumulative nongovernment scores for goods and services measured by the index averaged out at 73.1.
Thirteen agency Web sites attained scores of 80 or above on the 100-point scale - four of them new to the index - while 17 remained below 70.
The measure of the public's satisfaction, compiled every four months by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, surveyed 81 agency Web sites, up from 70 sites in June. The National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan Business School publishes the index.
Once again, the highly rated National Institutes of Health sites lead led the index, joined by newcomers from the Social Security Administration's Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs site and Internet-based Social Security Benefits application.
Of the five agencies with more than five sites measured by the index, the Social Security Administration had the highest average score with a 79.7 followed by the Health and Human Services Department 23 sites - which includes 21 National Institutes of Health sites - with 77.4. The Web sites of the departments of Agriculture and Treasury each averaged a score of 67.8 and the State Department scored a 73.
Larry Freed, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based online strategy firm ForeSee Results, wrote in an analysis of the report that improving the ability to navigate and search a site remains a high priority for government Web sites.
"It's great that you can get 7,000 responses back, but I only want that one response," Freed said. "I don't think we're scratching the surface of search technology. I think at some point there will be some big great breakthroughs."
Freed said agencies are embracing the concept of citizen satisfaction, which is the first step towards improvement.
"The fact that the number of participants is growing so quickly says the best thing about the future of e-government," Freed said. "These sites care, and if they can get the budget, they're making improvements in the right places."
The General Services Administration's main Web site continued to score poorly on the index with a 64, but its other Web sites scored above average including its Federal Citizen Information Center, which received an 82, and its Spanish language version of the FirstGov.gov site, which received a 77. GSA's e-Library site also scored poorly with a 58.
The U.S. Mint's Online Catalog site continued its decline, dropping to 72. At the beginning of the year, it was one of the top performers with an 81.
The score for NASA's main Web site improved markedly, rising from 72 in the second quarter to 77 in the third quarter.
Agencies pay from $22,500 to $30,000 to participate in the index, depending on how many Web sites are included in the review. Participating agencies receive performance reports about every six weeks as well as comparisons of visitor types.
|SSA||Social Security Administration||Internet Social Security Benefits Application||87||NA||NA|
|GSA||GSA Global Supply||Global Supply||72||68||68|
|Treasury||U.S. Mint||Online Catalog||72||76||81|
|DHS||Federal Emergency Management Agency||FEMA Flood Map Store||71||71||70|
|GSA||General Services Administration||GSA Advantage||68||69||68|
|PBCG||Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation||PBGC||65||65||63|
|SSA||SSA Retirement Planner||SSA Retirement Planner||NA||79||78|
|SSA||Social Security Administration||Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs||91||NA||NA|
|HHS||National Library of Medicine||MedlinePlus||86||85||87|
|HHS||National Library of Medicine||MedlinePlus en español||84||84||83|
|HHS||National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases||NIDDK||83||84||NA|
|HHS||Office on Women's Health||National Womens Health Information Center||83||82||82|
|GSA||General Services Administration||Federal Citizen Information Center||82||79||79|
|SSA||Social Security Administration||Social Security Business Services||81||NA||NA|
|HHS||NIH resource for stem cell research||NIH Stem Cell Information||80||81||NA|
|HHS||National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders||NIDCD||80||81||NA|
|HHS||NIH Senior Health||NIH Senior Health||79||NA||NA|
|HHS||National Library of Medicine||AIDSinfo||79||79||80|
|State||Bureau of Cultural Affairs||State Alumni||78||79||NA|
|Justice||National Criminal Justice Reference Service||NCJRS||78||76||77|
|GSA||General Services Administration||Consumer Action Website||77||NA||NA|
|Commerce||U.S. Department of Commerce||National Geodetic Society, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration||77||NA||NA|
|HHS||National Library of Medicine||TOXNET||76||76||76|
|HHS||NIH Office of Research Services, National Institutes of Health, HHS||Office of Research Services||76||NA||NA|
|HHS||Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality||Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality||75||NA||NA|
|Justice||National Institute of Justice||NIJ||75||74||75|
|HHS||Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality||Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality||75||74||73|
|SSA||Social Security Administration||SSA FAQ||75||73||NA|
|Justice||Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention||OJJDP||74||75||75|
|Labor||Bureau of Labor Statistics||BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook||74||71||73|
|NARA||National Archives and Records Administration||NARA Presidential Library||73||74||74|
|State||State Department||State Department Education USA||73||73||71|
|HHS||National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases||NIAID||73||73||76|
|Agriculture||Economic Research Service, Agriculture||ERS||72||71||72|
|Agriculture||Foreign Agricultural Service, Agriculture||FAS||72||70||69|
|State||International Information Programs||IIP||72||69||67|
|SSA||Social Security Administration||SSA Disability||71||72||NA|
|HHS||Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results, National Cancer Institute||SEER||71||70||NA|
|Commerce||Bureau of Economic Analysis, Commerce||BEA||70||71||71|
|NRC||U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission||U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission||69||NA||NA|
|State||Bureau of Cultural Affairs||Bureau of Cultural Affairs||68||67||71|
|Agriculture||Food Safety and Inspection Service||FSIS||68||66||66|
|Agriculture||National Agricultural Library||NAL||67||66||66|
|Treasury||Financial Management Service, Treasury||Financial Management Service||66||NA||NA|
|Agriculture||Forest Service||Forest Service||65||66||73|
|DHS||Federal Emergency Management Agency||FEMA Mitigation Division||64||65||67|
|Agriculture||Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service||CSREES||62||62||62|
|GSA||General Services Administration||GSA E-Library||58||NA||NA|
|Treasury||Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau||USTTB||57||58||0|
|NARA||National Archives and Records Administration||Access to Archival Databases||56||NA||NA|
|Defense||Military Health System||TRICARE||55||57||56|
|Energy||Energy Information Administration||Energy Information Adiministration||NA||67||69|
|State||State Department||Student Information||NA||69||69|
|Portals/Department main sites|
|HHS||National Cancer Institute||National Cancer Institute||81||81||80|
|HHS||National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, HHS||NHLBI main website||81||NA||NA|
|HHS||Office of Science Education||Office of Science Education||80||80||NA|
|HHS||National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases||NIAMS||78||78||NA|
|Interior||National Parks Service||National Parks Service||78||78||79|
|GSA||General Services Administration||FirstGov.gov (Spanish)||77||75||74|
|Defense||Defense Department||Defense Department||77||75||76|
|NASA||National Aeronautics and Space Administration||NASA||77||72||74|
|Commerce||National Institute of Standards and Technology||NIST||76||78||77|
|HHS||National Library of Medicine||NLM||76||76||77|
|HHS||National Human Genome Research Institute||NIHGRI||76||75||NA|
|SSA||Social Security Administration||SSA||74||73||72|
|HHS||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research||NIDCR||73||74||0|
|HHS||Centers for Disease Control and Prevention||CDC||73||73||74|
|FDIC||Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation||FDIC||73||73||73|
|GAO||Government Accountability Office||GAO||73||71||71|
|Treasury||Department of the Treasury||Treasury Department||73||70||69|
|GSA||General Services Administration||FirstGov.gov||72||72||71|
|State||State Department||State Department||71||71||73|
|HHS||National Institute of General Medical Sciences||NIGMS||70||71||NA|
|HHS||Fogarty International Center||Fogarty International Center||70||NA||NA|
|NARA||National Archives and Records Administration||NARA||70||69||68|
|Treasury||Internal Revenue Service||IRS||67||69||70|
|Commerce||United States Patent and Trademark Office||USPTO||66||68||66|
|GSA||General Services Administration||GSA||64||65||57|
|FAA||Federal Aviation Administration||FAA||NA||67||68|
|HUD||Housing and Urban Development Department||HUD||NA||61||62|
|CIA||Central Intelligence Agency||CIA Recruitment||79||79||79|
|OPM||Office of Personnel Management||Government Recruitment||77||77||76|
|State||State Department||State Department Recruitment||76||76||78|