Once again, satisfaction with federal government services has taken a dip.
Researchers for the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that citizen satisfaction with federal government services eroded for the second consecutive year, dropping to a score of 64.4 out of 100. Of the more than 40 public and private industries the ACSI also evaluates, only Internet service providers received a lower customer satisfaction score than the federal government, the report said.
Federal customer service took the biggest hit, dropping from a score of 80 a year ago to 75 now. Meanwhile, government websites received the same score as last year: 72.
The Defense Department, with a score of 73, garnered the highest citizen satisfaction rating, but it still fell short of ACSI’s aggregate rating of 75.6 for public and private sectors.
In the report, ACSI suggests recent government cutbacks could be a contributor to the overall drop.
“Since the number of federal employees has gone down, the decline in service quality is perhaps not surprising,” the report says. “In both the public and private sectors, customer service is often the first casualty of spending cuts, especially if the service is labor intensive.”
For the study, ACSI drew on telephone and email interviews conducted with more than 1,700 users last fall. Researchers asked participants to evaluate their recent experiences with government.
Not all federal offices scored poorly, however. The reports noted that retirees who deal with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. gave the agency a 90 score. The National Recreation Reservation Service call center also received the same rating.
The report also noted there could be variations even within agencies. For example, those who file taxes electronically gave the IRS a 76 — a much higher score than paper filers, who gave the agency a 57.
“While there are exceptions to the general trend of lower customer satisfaction with government services, the challenge of maintaining high-quality service with fewer resources may affect even more services soon,” David VanAmburg, director at ACSI, said in a release.