Government has lots of unhappy customers


The following editorial appeared in The Orange County Register on Tuesday, Feb. 16:

The American Customer Satisfaction Index recently released its annual report on customer satisfaction with federal government agencies and a CBSNews.com story about the results says it all: “Americans hate the U.S. government more than ever.” Though perhaps a bit melodramatic, it is true that the satisfaction index recorded the lowest score since ACSI started evaluating government agencies in 1999: 63.9 on a scale of 0-100.

That is down from the previous record low set last year, 64.4, and continues a general downward trend that has persisted since 2006.

It should be little surprise that the worst score went to the Treasury Department (55), which houses the Internal Revenue Service. The Justice Department (59) and the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs (60) also brought up the rear.

The highest scores went to the Department of the Interior (75), which runs the National Park system, the Department of State (71), whose passport service generally receives good marks, and the Defense Department (70).

The government consistently underperforms the private sector in customer satisfaction, however, which has also been a long-term trend. “As in prior years of ACSI measurement, both federal and local government services score far below every private economic sector in user satisfaction,” the report stated.

This is the almost inevitable result when you have monopolistic government agencies that are not subject to competition. Unlike private businesses, government employers’ and employees’ livelihoods do not depend on satisfying customers’ needs and desires. Their budgets are determined by political pull — not economic realities — and will increase regardless of performance.

Yet many persist in demonizing the capitalist system, which provides people with the things they want, and worshiping a government they admit is not satisfactory.

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