Citizens like personal service

Americans are proving wrong those federal officials who thought online government services would replace service channels such as the telephone.

In 2003, 97 million Americans either used government Web sites or e-mailed government officials, according to research by Pew Internet and American Life Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization in Washington.

But electronic services haven't reduced the need for phone and in-person contacts with federal employees, and probably won't for another 10 to 15 years, said Lee Rainie, project director.

Americans are most comfortable getting information online, but when they have a problem or need to share personal information, they want to deal with a person face to face or by phone, Rainie said. *

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