NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Public Gives Government Agencies Higher Marks

December 17, 2001

In the midst of the war on terror, Americans seem more pleased with the level of services rendered by federal agencies than in years past. So concludes a survey of consumer attitudes performed by the University of Michigan Business School in conjunction with the American Society for Quality and CFI Group, an Ann Arbor consulting firm.

The quarterly index usually focuses on private firms, but it also examines federal agencies once a year.

Those surveyed were confined to recipients of the services each agency provides. For example, outpatients at Veterans Health Administration clinics were polled to determine the VHA's score.

Among the findings which stand out in the study:

  • Federal agencies as a group scored 71 out of a possible 100 points, 3.5 percent higher than a year ago -- but one point below the most recent scoring of private-sector companies.
  • The only major agency to slip in public esteem was the Social Security Administration -- with retirement benefits recipients giving it a score of 82, 2.5 points lower than its 2000 rating.
  • The Internal Revenue Service overall jumped 10.7 percent, to 62, in the estimation of individual tax filers -- with electronic filers giving the agency a 77, and paper filers rating it 52 points.
  • "Customers" of the Federal Aviation Administration -- commercial pilots -- gave that agency a 59, up 5.4 points, complaining that its regulations were sometimes unclear.

Generally, agencies that provide benefits, information or other services to the public fare better than regulatory bodies -- which sometimes butt heads with the "customers" they serve.

Source: Patrick Barta, "FAA Trumps IRS as Agency Least Loved," Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2001.

For text


Browse more articles on Government Issues