Of 106 federal government websites ranked in a new survey, the Social Security Adminstration is at the top, claiming the first three spots for highest user satisfaction rate.

The report, called The Silent Citizen: Measuring the Satisfaction of Every Voice, stated that citizens prefer to use the Internet to interact with their government -- and that's good news for the public sector, because websites are often a more cost-effective tool than physical offices.

“There are definite cost savings associated with offering a highly satisfying website experience,” according to the study, released by analytics firm ForeSee. “Therefore, government agencies need to maintain the highest online standards by meeting or exceeding citizen expectations, wants and needs.”

Most feedback received for websites is negative, because satisfied users are often silent, the study explained. For this reason, even successful websites must remain proactive in the services they offer. “If they wait for feedback to determine where to focus their priorities, there’s a risk of losing engagement with and trust of citizens because their expectations and needs were not met.”

A graph of citizen satisfaction with federal websites shows that satisfaction has seen a steady increase as technology has progressed over the past 10 years or so. In 2003, satisfaction was around 69 percent and now, satisfaction is at 75.3 percent.

A previous federal website ranking survey assessed usability, accessibility and search engine optimization, and as far as some are concerned, public-sector websites simply aren't meeting expectations. This most recent survey details the top 10 federal websites with their current user satisfaction ratings, according to Forsee's latest data:

  1. SSA iClaim (92)
  2. SSA Retirement Estimator (91)
  3. SSA Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (89)
  4. HHS National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website (88)
  5. DHS National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website (87)
  6. HHS MedlinePlus en español (87)
  7. MedlinePlus (87)
  8. HHS Healthy People (85)
  9. SSA Electronic Access/Online Statement (85)
  10. DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Español (85)

The full study with all 106 websites and detailed analysis can be found online in .pdf format.