Citizen Perception of Public Value Varies Globally

Accenture survey shows Americans view government performance more negatively than most countries.

by / January 14, 2009

What's our perception of government? Do citizens feel connected and engaged with their government? We sometimes hear about the negative views Americans have about government in general and about its performance in particular. But what are the views of citizens in the United Kingdom, Japan or Mexico? How does the perception of government compare to ours?

For the first time, we have a global perspective on citizen perception of government performance. The Accenture Institute for Public Value (Accenture's research and development center) has created the Citizen Experience Study to provide a single viewpoint on this issue based on a global survey of perceptions.

The survey was conducted in 13 locations worldwide: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. According to Accenture, the study is not intended to serve as a comparison between countries, but to show how the public perceives the government, with the hope of improving public services.

The survey itself is based around the Accenture Public Service Value Governance Framework, a model to help improve public engagement in government. Citizens were asked to rate both the importance and government performance of 16 actions. They also rated how well the government addresses 10 specific areas. They were then asked how their government performs in social and economic areas, and how much they trust the government to improve their quality of life. With these results, Accenture hoped to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the various governments as perceived by citizens.

Below is a summary of the results for five of the 13 geographies. For the complete results of the survey, including visual representations of the findings, click here.



In Germany, 22 percent of respondents believe the social and economic conditions in Germany are satisfactory or very satisfactory, while 45 percent believe them to be unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory. Although they praised the government for its efforts in public safety, protection of the environment, and transportation, weaknesses included the cost of living, security in retirement, and immigration control. 72 percent have little or no trust in the government to improve their quality of life.



Among those surveyed, 41 percent have a positive perception of social and economic conditions in India, while 21 percent are more pessimistic. Government efforts in education and transportation were rated highly, while protection of the environment and cost of living were seen as needing improvement. It is important to note that, for India, the respondents only represent those who are online, which makes up a small portion of the population.



In Mexico, 38 percent of respondents look favorably on the country's social and economic conditions, while 35 percent have a more negative outlook. Citizens perceive the government as doing a relatively good job in education and health, and a poorer job in public safety, the cost of living, and employment. A majority of those surveyed -- 67 percent -- have at least some faith in the government to improve their lives.



Singapore's respondents look quite favorably on their government's actions and capabilities. The majority of respondents (66 percent) find Singapore's social and economic conditions to be satisfactory or very satisfactory. They believe the government does a good job of addressing nine out of the 10 areas of need, the only exception being the cost of living. One action respondents think is important but not well addressed by the government is the seeking of citizens' views when prioritizing services.


United States

In the United States, only 17 percent look favorably on the social and economic situation in the country, while 62 percent have a more negative perception. Public safety is seen as one of the government's strengths, but the cost of living, security in retirement, and immigration control are considered to be problem areas. Government actions that are considered important but need improvement include how the government explains its spending on public services, the focus placed on societal issues, and whether the government encourages people to take personal responsibility.