US citizens of all ages are already interacting digitally with government—and most want to maintain or increase those interactions. Although government has work to do to meet demand, focusing on digital government basics can bridge the gap between citizen expectations and reality.
Those were among the findings of the November 2014 Accenture Public Services Pulse Survey, which gathered perspectives on digital government from 1,095 US voting-age citizens, ranging in age from 18 to 61 and residing across the country.
In the survey, 42 percent of US citizens reported that a majority of their government interactions were handled digitally, with nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) indicating that they would like to maintain or increase these interactions. Only one in four (27 percent) said they were satisfied with digital services from government, while 45% said they are neutral and 28% told us they aren’t satisfied.
Interestingly, neither technology nor age were significant factors in assessing government services. And while respondents across the age spectrum rely mainly on computers for access, there is growing demand for other platforms, such as mobile phones and tablets.
Digital Government Still Has Room to Improve
A majority of pulse survey respondents (51 percent) cited a lack of awareness as the key factor preventing them from using digital government services. That factor ranked higher than both technology and privacy issues. In fact, one-third of citizens (31 percent) said awareness was the single most important improvement government could make to increase satisfaction.
When it comes to quality and privacy issues in using government websites, citizens hold government to the same standards as commercial websites. More than 70 percent said they have the same or higher expectations for digital government services—with just over half (54 percent) citing “poor website organization” as the greatest obstacle to using digital services. Thirty-nine percent dinged government for inefficient search, while another 37 percent identified poorly organized or dense information as problematic.
Getting the Basics Right Should be Top Priority
The good news for government is that digital citizens prioritize the basics.
When asked what is important to creating a positive experience when using digital services from government, the top demand (by 91 percent) was “Ability to get my questions answered definitively,” followed closely by “Assurance of privacy and security” (cited by 89 percent). More complex digital functionality—such as integration with social media—was ranked the lowest (20 percent).
In the middle of the spectrum are other basic requirements: “being able to see the status of my request or activity” (79 percent), “information organized by my need or issue” (69 percent) and “only having to provide information once” (68 percent).
The even better news for government: Nearly three-quarters of all citizens report that improvements in digital government services can positively impact their belief that government is “forward looking” and increase their satisfaction. That, in turn, will translate to the greater citizen engagement that’s crucial to delivering public service for the future.