Satisfaction With Federal Services at 4-Year High

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In a survey based on interviews with 2,380 Americans completed in November and December, satisfaction with the federal government posted an index score of 68.0, just slightly below a high of 68.4 posted in 2012. Satisfaction had fallen to 63.9 in 2015, its lowest level of the past decade.

The survey was conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and asked respondents to evaluate their recent experiences with federal government services.

ACSI notes that improvements in government websites stood out as a major factor in the results. There was also a “substantial gain” in the proportion of Americans who reported good experiences with the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This is the agency responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare).

Among individual departments, the Department of the Interior’s index score rose 4% to 78 and the Department of State’s score rose 10% to 78, the highest index scores of the 12 federal departments.

The lowest index score was earned by the Department of the Treasury with a score of 59. Not surprising because the Treasury’s primary public face is that of the Internal Revenue Service. The Department of Veterans Affairs was the second-lowest performer with an index score of 66.

The DHHS gained 10 points year over year in 2016. ACSI explains:

Citizens using HHS now constitute the largest share of the ACSI respondent sample, a shift explained by ACA enrollment reaching almost 10 million in early 2016. Moreover, users of HHS are significantly more satisfied in 2016 compared with the prior year. The department’s satisfaction jumps 8% to 67, driven by the improved quality of the HealthCare.gov website.

In sum, more citizens than ever are interacting with the federal government to receive services from the Affordable Care Act delivered via the HealthCare.gov website. Because both the service and its website are viewed more positively, government satisfaction overall is lifted.

And the most popular federal agency? The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which was established by Congress to insure the defined-benefit pensions of working Americans. The agency insures nearly 24,000 pension plans that provide benefits for 40 million people. The PBGC’s ACSI score for 2016 was 90.

Another highly popular government service is the Recreation.gov website that offers information and reservation services for a number of other government agencies, including the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The websites index score for 2016 was 84.

Here’s a list of the 12 federal departments along with their 2016 ACSI score:

  • Interior: 78
  • State: 78
  • Energy: 75
  • Justice: 74
  • Defense: 71
  • Commerce: 70
  • Homeland Security: 70
  • Agriculture: 69
  • Social Security Administration: 68
  • Health and Human Services: 67
  • Veterans Affairs: 66
  • Treasury: 59