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Customer Satisfaction Survey of FDA Leaves Room for Improvement.

Customer satisfaction and public administration may seem like an oxymoron to some, but federal managers are making an effort to improve the overall level of service in their agencies. However, without a germane yardstick it is difficult to chart a successful path. For the first time a new rating of satisfaction with federal government services allows federal agencies to be compared to the private sector and with each other. The ratings span 29 key agencies and were issued last month as a special report of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The aggregate score for the federal government is 68.6 on a 100-point scale. This is 6 percent lower than the private-sector aggregate score of 73, but 11 percent higher than satisfaction with network news, for example. FDA received a modest 66. Federal agencies that came ahead include: U.S. Mint (86); USDA's Women, Infants and Children program (83); NASA (80); and Federal Emergency Management Agency (73). USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service ranked slightly lower with a 62. Applying the ACSI approach to federal agencies was initiated by the President's Management Council based on the recommendation of the methodology by the General Services Administration. ACSI interviewed 7,723 customers of 29 agencies and departments. In addition to the scores, ACSI provided guidelines for improvements to the agencies.

For FDA's survey, the principal grocery shopper and food preparer for all food products except meat and poultry (regulated by USDA) was interviewed. The survey asked about the usefulness and clarity of food labeling; customer awareness and the effectiveness of inspecting, testing and labeling efforts; and the usefulness of consumer alerts. For FDA's customer service, food shoppers and preparers: 1) believe food labeling is useful, clear, and understandable; 2) believe consumer alerts are useful; and 3) trust FDA to ensure food safety in the future. However, FDA needs improvement in: 1) increasing public awareness of FDA actions to ensure food safety; and 2) focusing on awareness efforts during consumer alerts.

While a score of 66 may seem low, 54 percent of those surveyed said they are more satisfied with the agency's efforts now than they were two years ago (only 5 percent said they are less satisfied). The agency attributes this improvement to its wide range of outreach activities recently undertaken, said FDA Commissioner Jane Henney in a statement. An example of this is the series of public meetings the agency held last fall across the country that elicited the public's and industry's views on genetically modified food, she said.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
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