Satisfaction with Federal Government Drops Yet Again


The Treasury Department had the lowest customer satisfaction score in the federal government, largely because of the IRS.

Citizens are less happy with the federal government than they were one year ago, a new survey shows.

On scale of 0 to 100, citizens rated federal agencies overall a 63.9, a 0.8 percent drop from one year ago and the third consecutive year of decline in satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Federal agencies scored below the national average for all public and private sector industries combined -- 73.8, the report said.

The Treasury Department scored the lowest in the federal government -- “in large part to the prominent role played by the Internal Revenue Service,” the report said -- with a score of 55, down from 57 in 2014. The departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs scored 59 and 60, respectively.

The Interior Department scored 75, the highest in the federal government, likely because citizens were familiar with the National Park Service through monuments and parks, the report said. The department of State and Defense followed with 71 and 70, respectively.

The gap between DOD and VA’s scores hints at the “vastly different experience of our military personnel,” ACSI Research Director Forrest Morgeson said in a statement. “Services are great when you’re enlisted, but the federal government has many challenges in delivering health services to its massive and growing population of veterans.”

Retirees rated the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, an independent agency, at 91 -- higher than “best in the private sector,” which included Amazon, Nordstrom and Chick-fil-A, the report said.

In recent years, the federal ACSI score peaked at 68.9 in 2008; in 2012, it began a steady decline, beginning at 68.4 in 2012 and falling to 66.1 in 2013 and 64.4 in 2014. The survey is based on interviews with 2,079 randomly selected respondents.

The report notes that even though overall satisfaction with federal services is down, ratings in some specific areas actually increased -- for instance, compared to past years, citizens reported that customer service overall, including the courteousness and professionalism of staff, had improved slightly from 75 to 76. Their perception of the quality of federal websites remained stagnant at 72.

Ratings also varied within departments; people who filed tax returns online rated the Treasury Department a 76, whereas paper filers rated it a 55.

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