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Is a Transparent Government a Trusted One?
ForeSee Results determines a consistent link between online transparency and citizens' trust of federal Web sites.
Posted Aug 31, 2010
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ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction measurement enterprise, recently released their Q1 2010 E-Government Transparency Index, revealing online transparency to be a key component in citizens' trust of federal websites.

ForeSee Results surveyed 54,000 U.S. citizens who visited 23 federal websites in the first quarter of 2010 to produce the Transparency Index. The top five priority elements for measuring citizen satisfaction included transparency, search, functionality, navigation, and site performance, with transparency ranking the highest.

The ForeSee Results Q1 2010 E-Government Transparency Index defines "online transparency" as "The thoroughness and accessibility of information made available on the website."

ForeSee Results uses the methodology of American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the national economic indicator of customer evaluations, to measure citizen satisfaction.   The E-Government Transparency Index reports satisfaction on a 100-point scale, with an increase of one point and 1.3 percent since the previous quarter. Freed describes the one point improvement as "good" and confirms that "[ForeSee] feel[s] very confident."

"What we've done is we measured a number of websites for how satisfied users of the websites are with those experiences," says Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer at ForeSee Results. "A year ago, we started testing out the concept of transparency as it was part of the open government initiative. We found there to be a very strong relationship between citizens' perception of transparency and satisfaction with the online experience of the site and trust in government."

ForeSee Results discovered a 50 percent increase in trust in government among those citizens who found a federal Web site to be transparent, along with a 56 percent increase in willingness to use the website as a primary source.

Freed writes in Q1 2010 E-Government Transparency Index, "If citizens find a government site to be transparent, they are more likely to return to the site, recommend it, and use it instead of a more costly channel [....] These kinds of citizen behaviors and attitudes are the holy grail of open, cost-effective, democratic, efficient government. If every federal agency and department had a baseline measure (both of transparency and the behaviors and attitudes mentioned in the previous chart) to measure and improve, great strides in government effectiveness could be made."

The E-Government Transparency Index is the first to locate specific quantitative online transparency scores from which to create a baseline to assess improvements.  The Q1 2010 report is the second installment of the ForeSee Results E-Government Transparency Index, which is an ongoing study.

ForeSee Results' citizen satisfaction model has been in place with the federal government for ten years. ForeSee Results is a private company in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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