How do Americans feel about federal tech?

A new survey digs into the public’s perceptions about federal IT, government services delivery and data privacy.


Sixty-eight percent of Americans agree that investments in federal IT are usually worth it, according to a new national survey by MeriTalk and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The survey probes how the government has fared in adapting to a digital world, delivering services during the pandemic and protecting American’s personal data online, as well as what efforts might help.

So, how effective is the federal government at adapting to the digital world?

About half of Americans, 47%, think it’s somewhat effective. Twenty-one percent said it’s extremely or very effective, but 31% said it isn’t effective at all or isn’t very effective.

In terms of ongoing pandemic response, a minority gave the federal government high marks for effectively connecting people with services like unemployment insurance and food assistance. Only 26% of surveyed Americans said they thought the federal government extremely or very good at making these connection. Twenty percent said it wasn’t effective at doing this at all, and 52% said it was somewhat effective.

Of those who had interacted with online government services from Social Security or disaster relief agencies over the past year, about half, 49%, said that they were either very or somewhat satisfied with the website or app’s ease of use. Slightly more, 52%, were satisfied with the availability of information about the service they were getting, and 48% expressed satisfaction with their ability to submit applications or documents online.

When it comes to finding and using online services, 81% of Americans said the government should expend at least moderate effort on making it easier for the public to take advantage of online programs and services like student financial aid and natural disaster assistance, according to the survey.

If the government did take measures to improve online services, 78% said that increasing the number of services offered online would have some impact on them personally.

Another high scorer: sending personalized notifications like reminders to submit documents. Thirty seven percent said it would have a major impact on them.

Americans gave the federal government lower marks on data protection efforts.

When asked how satisfied they were with current federal efforts to protect privacy and security of personal data online, only 23% said they were very or somewhat satisfied. More, 38%, were dissatisfied.

As to how the government could improve online data security, Americans agreed with imposing stronger punishments for cyber criminals, with 80% supporting that measure.

Seventy-four percent also expressed support for national standards on the collection, processing and sharing of personal data, and 72% agreed with increasing investments in federal cybersecurity measures.

Other measures – partnering with businesses to share information on data and cyber threats, treating data privacy as a national security issue and reducing the amount of personal data collected by government agencies – also all scored at least 65% in support.

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