Health site earns top marks in e-gov user satisfaction survey

Customers give federal Web sites better performance scores than offline government functions, but slightly worse scores than the national average of a general-purpose customer satisfaction index.

The new quarterly survey, released today, encompassed 22 federal Web sites that use the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) developed by the University of Michigan.

On a 100-point scale, the first E-Government Satisfaction Index came in at 70.9, according to the survey sponsors. Offline government agencies scored an average of 70.2. The national customer-satisfaction index for all providers of goods and services is 73.8.

The list of surveyed sites includes the FirstGov portal, four State Department sites, the Treasury Department's main Web site and the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps and two other volunteer programs.

The highest-scoring federal site on the ASCI index was for www.4women.gov, run by the Health and Human Services Department. The National Women's Health Information Center site received a satisfaction ranking of 83.

That the women's health site scored higher than several prominent private-sector sites and on a par with Amazon.com and the Google search engine indicates "how successful online government has already been in satisfying customers," said Larry Freed, president of ForeSee Results Inc. of Farmington Hills, Mich.

ForeSee Results, the University of Michigan, the American Society for Quality and the CFI Group of Ann Arbor, Mich., jointly conducted the survey.

Other sites that scored above average on the government survey included the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service, State's main and career Web sites, FirstGov, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (www.healthfinder.gov), NASA's home page and the NASA Education Program and Spacelink site.

The sponsors plan to conduct the E-Government Satisfaction Index survey every three months.

Patricia Daukantas writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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