Satisfaction with agency Web sites remains on plateau

Federal Web sites essentially are treading water in their attempts to keep pace with private-sector portals, according to one expert who analyzed new e-government data.

Due to bureaucracy and budgets, there is no one specific element in federal online performance that has made great strides, said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. He reached that conclusion after studying third-quarter data from the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index on e-government. The index was released Tuesday.

Federal e-commerce sites registered the largest improvement last quarter but dropped by nearly 3 percent in the third quarter, according to ACSI. These sites let citizens apply for benefits, request services and buy goods, like bonds and treasury securities.

The ACSI results indicate that federal sites are continuing a plateau in citizen satisfaction, with overall happiness slipping 0.5 percent to a total score of 73.3 on ACSI's 100-point scale. For the past nine quarters, aggregate satisfaction has hovered between 73.3 and 74.

"Expectations are being set not by other agencies but by experiences on Yahoo and Amazon," Freed said of private Web portals. Unlike call centers and other citizen services, Web sites require constant upgrades, he added. Commercial sites "keep raising the bar."

The biggest gap between the private and federal sectors is in the area of search, he noted. While the government works hard at improving navigation and recognizes the importance of precise search functionality, Freed said search experiences on private-sector sites are generally much more helpful and focused.

Seventy-nine percent of e-government sites mentioned search as their first or second priority, according to ACSI.

The good news: The premier federal sites continue to build on their online assets. The 19 top-caliber sites this quarter have a history of superior performance, with scores of 80 or higher.

And "there's a lot of sharing of internal best practices," Freed said. "That's one of the advantages the government has over the private sector."

ACSI Founder Claes Fornell observed, "An investment in online citizen satisfaction will pay itself off as more citizens will choose the online channel over more costly alternatives."

Darrell West, a political science professor at Brown University and the author of numerous e-government reports, said he was not surprised by the poor e-government satisfaction results this quarter. "I think we're in a status quo period as far as government technology," he said.

The federal government has not prioritized information technology spending for the past few quarters, West added.

But some agencies are starting to add features for submitting and reading online feedback on proposed regulations, rather than just posting mailing addresses for public comment, he noted.

West agreed that search functionality is one of the greatest weaknesses of government Web sites. "The problem today is information overload."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.