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More citizens want to find agencies on mobile apps than on social media, survey finds

About 3 percent of Americans have used a federal mobile app in the past year, according to a survey released Monday, and 18 percent say they'd like to.

That beats 13 percent of Americans who say they want to correspond with the government through text messages and 11 percent who'd like to do so through social media, according to the survey from MeriTalk, a government information technology industry group.

Americans overall think government customer service is improving, according to the survey. About 31 percent of respondents told MeriTalk they are "very satisfied" with federal customer service, up from 24 percent in the same survey in 2010.

President Obama ordered federal agencies in April to improve their online customer service by streamlining federal websites, simplifying citizen interfaces and gathering more user feedback. The earliest deadlines in the executive order are in October, so it's not clear how much of the improvement noted in the survey is a result of the Obama initiative.

The MeriTalk survey was funded by RightNow, a customer service-focused technology vendor. Its online survey of 1,000 respondents represented an array of ages, with about a 3 percent margin of error.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration ranked highest in customer satisfaction, according to the survey, with the U.S. Postal Service and the Education and State departments coming in close behind.

About 40 percent of survey respondents said they'd be willing to let the government store some of their personal information if it meant they didn't have to enter it multiple times.

About 45 percent of respondents said the government should make it easier to determine where to go for information. Federal websites often are criticized for not making the most-visited portions of their sites the most accessible and for having clunky search functions that make it difficult to root out important pages.

One workaround sponsored by the General Services Administration is Search.usa.gov, a panagency search tool that compensates for low-performing agency-specific search tabs.

About 44 percent of survey respondents said they'd visited a federal website to learn about a program or benefits in the past year and 41 percent had downloaded a form from a federal site. Just 3 percent of respondents had interacted with an agency on Facebook in the past year, according to the survey, and only 1 percent had connected with an agency on Twitter.

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