This document was downloaded and archived from on May 28, 2001.

  Daily Briefing  

December 13, 1999

Federal customer survey results released

By Brian Friel

Americans are almost as satisfied with the service they receive from government agencies as they are with service from private sector companies, according to results of the first-ever government-wide customer satisfaction survey.

The results, released Monday by the University of Michigan Business School, the American Society for Quality and consulting firm Arthur Andersen, place the government at a score of 68.6 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The average private sector score on the index is 72.

"The fruits of our reinvention effort are beginning to be felt by the public," said Morley Winograd, director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR). NPR's goal is to get satisfaction with government equal to satisfaction with the private sector. "The results show that satisfaction with government service is improving, and it's on the way to our target number."

The University of Michigan Business School and its partners interviewed 250 customers for each of the 29 federal agencies participating in the survey. The results of the interviews were plugged into the ACSI computer model.

The index provides each agency with a numerical score from 0 to 100 based on customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value. Since 1994, the ACSI has become a gauge of customer satisfaction for more than 200 private companies in 34 industries, ranging from the Adolph Coors Co. to J.C. Penney to Zenith Electronics Corp.

Citizens had generally low expectations of customer service from government agencies, but several agencies surprised customers with their performance. The Veterans Health Administration, for example, scored a 71 on the ACSI in terms of the level of service veterans expected to receive. But the agency scored an 83 on the ACSI in terms of quality of service received, meaning it far outperformed veterans' expectations.

VHA's hospitals also outperformed private sector hospitals. Private sector hospitals have an average score of 70 on the ACSI this year. VHA's overall score is 79.

The U.S. Mint, the Head Start program, and the Women, Infants and Children program scored high as well. The Federal Aviation Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Internal Revenue Service were among the agencies that scored low.

"We plan on using the results in our work with the high-impact agencies to make customer service even better," Winograd said.

Customer Satisfaction


Federal government (aggregate)   68.6
  Service through local and state 80
Administration for Families and Children Parents of Head Start students 87
Food and Nutrition Service WIC program recipients 83
Housing and Urban Development Department Community Development Block Grant recipients 69
  Earned benefits 77
Social Security Administration Recent retirement benefit recipients 82
Veterans Health Administration Outpatients at VHA clinics 79
Office of Personnel Management Federal retirees and annuitants 75
Health Care Financing Administration Recent Medicare beneficiaries 71
Veterans Benefits Administration Veteran compensation/benefit claimants 61
  Public Information 75
Education Publications, Education Primary users of education publications 80
NASA Educators participating recently in NASA Center programs 80
General Services Administration Users of the Consumer Information Center 77
Census Bureau Data distributors in depository libraries, state and local agencies 70
Environmental Protection Agency Reference librarians accessing EPA Web site 69
  Recreational Land Users 72
National Park Service Recreational visitors 73
U.S. Forest Service Recreational visitors 70
Bureau of Land Management Recreational visitors 64
  Applicants and Users 71
U.S. Mint Buyers of numismatic and commemorative coins 86
Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster assistance recipients, 1997-8 73
Student Financial Assistance, Education Dept. Electronic applicants for Title IV aid 63
National Science Foundation Grant applicants, 1998 57
Patent and Trademark Office Recent individual patent and trademark applicants 57
  International Travelers 68
Bureau of Consular Affairs, State Dept. Recent passport applicants/renewals 73
Immigration and Naturalization Service International travelers 69
Customs Service International air travelers 66
  Household Consumers 63
Food and Drug Administration Principal grocery shoppers and food preparers 66
Food Safety and Inspection Service Principal grocery shoppers and food preparers 62
  Tax Filers  
Internal Revenue Service All tax filers 51
Internal Revenue Service Electronic tax filers 74
  Regulation Users 55
Federal Aviation Administration Commercial pilots 58
Occupational Safety and Health Administration Health and safety professionals 51

Source: National Quality Research Center, University of Michigan Business School

Comments about this site may be sent to the UNT Libraries
Government Documents Department.