Citizen Satisfaction with Federal Government Services Drops to All-Time Low, ACSI Data Shows

ANN ARBOUR, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Satisfaction with US federal government services has never been worse.

Citizen satisfaction drops sharply in 2021, slipping 2.6% to a score of 63.4 (out of 100), according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI®) Federal Government Report 2021.

“This is the fourth straight year that satisfaction with the federal government has suffered, marking a series of unprecedented negative movements in the index,” says Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director research at ACSI. “Citizens’ perception of federal government services has been greatly influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from the controversial 2020 federal election. The results speak for themselves, with citizen satisfaction falling to an all-time low . The federal government has its work cut out if it hopes to turn things around.

No federal government quality attribute is spared

The four main drivers of citizen satisfaction – process, information, customer service and website – are collapsing.

The efficiency and ease of government processes drops 5% to 63, while the ease of access and clarity of information drops 3% to 67. Similarly, the courtesy and professionalism of customer service drops 1% to 73, and the quality of the government website drops 1% to 70. .

Collectively, these declines signify a broad erosion in the quality of federal government services experienced by citizens in 2021.

The Home Office sets the standard, while the Treasury remains the bottom of the barrel

Citizen satisfaction varies considerably from one federal department to another, with the significant differences between departments being largely explained by the nature of their missions.

This year, the Department of the Interior leads in citizen satisfaction with a score of 77. It is the only federal department to exceed the national economy-wide ACSI average (73.7 in third quarter of 2021).

Four other federal departments – including the Department of Health and Human Services (71), the Department of Agriculture (70), the Department of Commerce (70) and the Department of Defense (70) – score in the 1970s but are below the economy-wide ACSI average.

The rest all score well below that mark, with perennial laggard, the Treasury Department (54) – which primarily interacts with citizens through its inherently unpopular mission of collecting taxes – sitting dead last.

Democrats and Republicans suffer from dips in satisfaction

The Federal Government ACSI study does not measure public approval of specific politicians or political parties. Nonetheless, factors such as political party affiliation are likely to influence citizens’ perceptions of the government services they receive, according to ACSI data.

Looking at year-over-year trends by party affiliation, Democrats (down 4% to 65) and Republicans (down 2% to 64) see a decline in citizen satisfaction in 2021. The relatively small group of “other party” supporters also experience much lower satisfaction, dropping 13% to an ACSI score of 54.

Only independents who indicate no political party affiliation show a slight increase in 2021, up 2% to 63.

Nonetheless, the sharp decline in citizen satisfaction among all respondents who indicate a political affiliation – including Democrats, Republicans and supporters of other parties – reinforces the existence of a general erosion in the perceived quality of the government production by citizens.

The 2021 Federal Government ACSI Report is based on interviews with 2,387 randomly selected users contacted by email throughout the year. Download the full reportand follow ACSI on LinkedIn and Twitter at @theACSI.

No advertising or other promotional use may be made of the data and information contained in this release without the prior express written permission of ACSI LLC.

About ACSI

the US Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) has been a national economic indicator for 25 years. It measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various federal and local government agency services. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, the scores are based on interview data with approximately 500,000 customers per year. For more information, visit

ACSI and its logo are registered trademarks of American Customer Satisfaction Index LLC.

Ashley C. Reynolds