Public satisfaction with the government declined for the third straight year in 2020 as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, reaching its lowest level since 2015 by falling 4.4 points to 65.1 on a 100-point scale.
The study, based on interviews with people who had direct interaction with a government service, “spans a tumultuous year that includes the COVID-19 pandemic, the contentious run-up to the November federal elections, and the politically charged times following the elections,” it noted.
Of the four measures, three declined: efficiency and ease of government processes, ease of accessing and clarity of information, and perceptions of government website quality. The other—professionalism and courtesy of customer service provided by federal services—was unchanged and has the highest score of the four at 74.
By agency, Commerce and Agriculture led with scores of 74, while Treasury—home of the IRS—was lowest at 60. Due to the pandemic, it added, there were fewer responses regarding agencies that typically generate high levels of interaction, including the State Department, through its passport services, and the Interior Department, home of the National Park Service.
While the study does not measure satisfaction with politicians or political parties, it noted that satisfaction levels fell across all party affiliations, down 7 points among Republicans, 4 among Democrats and 5 among independents. “The broad-based decline may be due to the contentiousness of the federal election, where negative words and images about politicians and the government came from all sides and remain front of mind for many citizens,” it said.