Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Measuring Gov 2.0 (via Web 1.0): Foresee

NOTE: This post is part of a series entitled Measuring Gov 2.0, But First Web 1.0 Analysis. You may also be interested in the first study in which I highlighted website measurement by the Brookings Institution.

In 1999, the US government selected the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which is produced by the University of Michigan, to be the standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction with e-government services. The ACSI has been used by more than 100 federal government agencies to evaluate over 200 services and programs found on the Web. Survey data is collected from voluntary, randomly selected respondents. Each website was rate by guests based on several elements related to satisfaction, then converted to a 100-point scale. The ACSI methodology uses the following four factors to measure user satisfaction:

• Functionality
• Look and Feel
• Navigation
• Search

In addition, the ACSI E-Government Index created functional categories to enable agencies to benchmark one another. These categories are:

• Career and recruitment
• E-commerce and transactional
• News and Information
• Portals and department main sites

What did they learn? Here’s a summary of the key findings (taken directly from the report):

• Citizen satisfaction with e-gov is the highest in five years with satisfaction with e-gov at 74.1 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale - the increase in scores is linked to to a rise in satisfaction with e-commerce and transactional sites.

• E-gov that satisfies citizens is more efficient and cost-effective. Eight out ten citizens who are highly satisfied with a federal government website are more likely to use the website as a primary resource (86%) and to recommend the website (84%).

• Search, functionality, and navigation continue to be the top priorities for improvement. In particular, improving search will have the biggest impact on overall satisfaction.

• Citizens are most satisfied with e-commerce/transaction government websites.

• Citizens prefer to interact with federal government online versus offline.

So what agencies rank the highest on the ACSI scale? Here are the top 5 websites at the Federal department level:

2. GSA
3. National Institute for Standards and Technology
4. Government Accountability Office
5. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

If you were to explore each of these sites in a search for Web 2.0 features, only NASA and GSA would lead you to blogs, podcasts, RSS and more. The last three are sorely lacking any interactive or collaborative elements.

So what are the implications and applications for Government and Web 2.0?

A. Citizens are increasingly interacting with government websites to accomplish key activities and they are increasingly HAPPY with what they find when they arrive!

B. Citizens want better search, functionality and navigation – how can tagging, bookmarking, “digging” and other interactive features improve their user experience?

C. Citizens want to DO something when they visit sites, as evidenced by the level of satisfaction with e-commerce and transaction sites. That bodes well for Web 2.0 features that call upon the visitor to create and share content and ideas. Yes, they want to find information quickly and easily, but they also want to do more than read.

D. How can agencies use direct surveys and polling with their customers to gain real-time feedback regarding satisfaction with the new collaboration tools that they deploy?

E. Take a closer look at the “Career and Recruitment” category. With the difficult navigation of being discussed broadly by current and potential public sector personnel, it behooves an agency to post key jobs on their own site....and to find methods for more quickly vetting them. Moreover, an agency that looks “cool” from its Web presence may be more likely to attract the best and brightest new hires.

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