Focus not frills

March 23, 2010

Andrea di Maio of Gartner highlights the E-Gov Satisfaction Index Q4 2009 from the USA in his blog of March 12th 2010 #. What Andrea picks up on is the factor that the leading sites in the satisfaction ratings are ones that focus upon particular services, whilst the portals don’t gain the same levels. In Andrea’s words “more focus, less thrills and frills.”

This comes in contrast to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 22nd March 2010 about Mygov. Mygov is a  project to be led by newly promoted UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox that it is claimed will provide a simple dashboard for managing pensions, tax credits, child benefits and paying council tax amongst many, many other government services.

Whilst I applaud the concept, I am asking ten years on from the Modernising Government White Paper and the start of the e-government experience, that rather than starting the excavation of the foundations for another BIG project we survey the public for the “quick wins”. OK, this one is only £30 million, but lets make the best possible use of the money and see about some savings coming back from the investment.

I am aware from my seat on the Local CIO Council that the Chair, Jos Creese, recently wrote to Martha Lane Fox offering the LCIOC’s support to her work as Champion for Digital Inclusion. In her new role I would suggest that the involvement of the wider public sector is more important. Local councils are in day-to-day contact with the public over a range of matters, many of them should never warrant being made electronic, when detailed and complicated advice is required (that’s not to say that information and guidance can’t be published), but we are also at the coal-face of democracy when we administer elections, deal with basic local issues and recognise the communities in their geographic and social settings. 

If this is truly a move towards deliberative government, before any work starts we need to be asking questions about which government services the citizens would like online? Is it to do with health? Is it to so with benefits? Perhaps it’s around planning or highways? I don’t know, has anyone ever asked them?

# One thing confusing me is that Andrea describes it as being published on March 12th, whilst I had it as 26th January, having blogged about it a few days after that in “Satisfaction levels out“?



February 21, 2010

Larry Freed strikes again! Foresee have published his latest analysis, in this case a special piece of work entitled “The Inaugral ForeSee Results’ E-Government Transparency Index.”

The report, nearly a year in the making, studied more than 36, 000 US citizens in the fourth quarter of 2009. Freed proposes that it provides evidence that online transparency is a key driver for online satisfaction, which in turn drives trust in government and onto future participation and collaboration.

Freed had started out by stating that (p.2) “there aren’t any measures in place to assess citizens’ current perceptions of federal transparency, collaboration opportunities, and their trust in governmnet, much less any clear direction on how to improve those things.” He’s then extended the ACSI question set to handle this and as a result believes the study provides evidence that citizens perceiving a federal website to be highly transparent are also more likely to participate, return in future, recommend it, use it as a primary source and trust government in general!

Another area highlighted on page 5 is that different elements are key on the different web sites, which can only be discovered by research them individually. For some, it’s transparency, for others it’s the navigation, whilst search and other elements may have a part to play depending upon the site.

As usual, more grist to the e-government-thinking mill. Thank you Larry for your hard work.

Satisfaction levels out

February 2, 2010

The latest report from Larry Freed and Foresee Results (January 26, 2010) continues to use the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to benchmark a vast range of US government and agency web sites. The report continues to press the message that a good web site enhances trust, participation and service-delivery savings, which I don’t doubt.

In Larry’s words the argument is (p.20): “Providing a good experience for website visitors clearly has value, so it’s in an agency’s best interest to see where their weaknesses lie and make improvements in order to keep citizens happy. ”

Which means one has to get feedback from the users.

My own argument with Foresee and similar approaches is that whilst this is a great start many of the problems lie in process, in the back office, and resolving the channel issues may not get to the heart of the matter, although it may reveal symptoms.

Larry’s conclusiom on the data is that (p.22): “Although satisfaction with federal government sites remains flat this quarter from last quarter, it remains flat at an all-time high. When looking at satisfaction over the past five years, there is clearly an upward trend. This trend can be expected to continued if federal government agencies embrace Obama’s goals to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration through e-government.”

This applies internationally but let’s not forget that the web is essentially an information and service delivery mechanism, and the excluded are always with us.

Foreseeing the future

November 3, 2009

Foresee have published their latest analysis of citizen satisfaction with US government web sites. I always pick up on this because of the employment of satisfaction, be it the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) or otherwise.

In case no one has ventured further on their web site when I’ve blogged about these reports before, Foresee publish a whole stream of studies about metrics and qualitative data in relation to business and government, including podcasts by their CEO, Larry Freed.

What it does point out is the increasing satisfaction in the USA of citizens with government web sites, particularly where they offer transactions. Further the reviewers state that “there is a clear relationship bewteen the length of time federal websites have measured satisfaction and their ability to make significant score improvments.”  They then identify the need for long term investment in measurement to show real returns.

If we want to know what the key improvment is, Foresee identify it as improved navigation, so let that be a lesson to you all!

The only sad part is that e-government is shown to have taken over from the other channels, not that there is an ACSI measurement of this other than once a year. This also demonstrates the need to measure all channels in parallel  to assist in improving them all, otherwise we are likely to get serious exclusivity problems.