Though the American people’s satisfaction with the Federal Government increased slightly over the past quarter, citizen satisfaction with e-government is at an all-time level. Federal webmasters have worked to enhance the citizen-government relationship.
When federal webmasters enhance the features of federal sites that go beyond the expectations of citizens, not only are users highly satisfied but the government also saves time and money, according to a quarterly report released by ForeSee of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Critical information such as Medicare drug plans or Social Security issues are able to reduce the amount of time fielding questions either by phone or in-person, now that their site features are more navigable and easy to use. Furthermore, this results in the public being more likely to obtain information from a credible source instead of unauthorized websites. 87% of highly satisfied citizens are likely to use federal websites as primary resources; faith in democracy is fostered as the public becomes highly likely to solicit its government.
Search Engines are a Key Component
Among the core features of federal websites that have led to high satisfaction with e-government are search engines, functionalities and online transparency. Rated as a top priority for federal websites, improving search engines helps the organization, relevance and quality of search results when looking up information. Also noted as a reason for high satisfaction among users is website functionalities such as the convenience, usefulness and an array of online tools that make it easier for users to navigate the site. Additionally, online transparency – how thoroughly and accessibly the site reveals information on the organization’s activities – is a key component to increasing website satisfaction.
Reform Efforts Still in Place
Although satisfaction with e-government has risen to high levels, the remaining obstacle for the government is responding to the changing landscape of the Internet – in other words, the capability to remain agile and flexible. As primary online experiences take place on private-sector websites, which are good at adopting new technologies, federal websites are struggling to keep up with private corporate websites and improve user satisfaction. Such features include website layouts, design and navigation buttons that are more likely to be put in place more quickly by private companies than public ones. The Federal Government’s Reform Task Force will precisely try to collect best practices from the private sector by conducting a survey to analyze the public’s website expectations, since those are primarily shaped by the private sector.