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ACSI Government Agency Scores Drop Slightly

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) 2002 report on the federal government shows widely different scores across departments and a slight decrease in the overall score since 2001.

The ACSI score for government agencies, including both those that are regulatory and those that administer benefits, fell to 70.2 in 2002 from a record high 71.3 in 2001. Large declines in satisfaction with Medicare and parts of the Internal Revenue Service account for most of the drop in the overall government score.

Among recipients of Medicare the satisfaction score for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fell about 4% since 2001, down from 79 to 76. Among corporate users, scores for the IRS are down 9% to a score of 60 among small businesses and down nearly 6% to 52 among large and mid-size businesses.

Satisfaction with IRS electronic filing of individual tax returns continues to be remarkably high, however--78 compared to 53 for individual paper tax filers. While the score for all individual tax filers is much lower at 62, the score still represents a 22% improvement since 1999.

Two-Edged Sword
"No organization, private or public, has shown a similar improvement in such a short period of time," says Claes Fornell, professor of business and director of the University of Michigan Business School's National Quality Research Center, which produces the ACSI with ASQ and the CFI Group. "However, user satisfaction with a tax collection agency is a double-edged sword. Although a passive agency will not be in the collective interest, it might well make for more satisfied tax filers on an individual basis. Yet, there is no evidence the cutback in IRS audits is the reason for rising scores."

In addition to the IRS and Medicare, the U.S. Mint, which sells numismatic and commemorative coins, also saw its ACSI score drop. Despite a decrease of more than 4% in its satisfaction score, however, the mint still registered the highest score of all agencies included in this year's ACSI. Its mark of 84 was just above the Social Security Administration's 83 for retirement benefits recipients and the Veterans Health Administration's 81 for inpatients at Veterans Administration medical centers.

The most improved government agency in terms of customer satisfaction in 2002 was the Federal Aviation Administration, whose score rose nearly 9% from 59 to 64.

For the first time, the ACSI also includes scores for several government websites, whose average score of 74 is higher than the overall ACSI score for private industry (73.1) or government (70.2).

For more details, visit www.theacsi.org.
 

hand/penWorld Standards Day Paper Contest Winners Posted

The first place paper is Standards During Times of Change: Aerospace Strategies for Keeping Standards and Business Linked by Laura E. Hitchcock, senior standards specialist at the Boeing Co.

Robert C. Thompson of New York State's Building Codes Division wrote the second place paper, New York State: Building a Case for Standards.

The third place paper was The Standards Distribution Market Serving Customers Between "All" and "Nothing" by Andres Bank, vice president of business development at TechStreet.
 

thermometerIndustrial Temperature Measurement To Be Improved

Techniques to improve industrial temperature measurement were discussed at the Eighth International Temperature Symposium co-sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society.

These techniques include acoustic thermometry and sensors and methods to improve radiation (or noncontact) thermometry. Acoustic thermometry will improve NIST's calibrations of the standard platinum resistance thermometers. The sensors under development, called absolute pyrometers, are calibrated using a process that determines optical power by comparison to electrical power.

For more information, contact Dean Ripple at 301-975-4801 or dean.ripple@nist.gov.
 

U.S. Reclaims Top Global Competitiveness Rank

The United States is the most competitive economy in the world, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2002-2003 released recently by the World Economic Forum.

The report shows the United States swapping positions with Finland, the top ranking country in the previous year's report.

According to the Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. partner with the World Economic Forum, the United States owes its high competitiveness ranking mainly to its "stellar performance on technology related factors and a business environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship and risk taking."

Other report highlights of the competitiveness index include the following:

  • Technological innovation was a key driver in Japan's improvement.
  • There is a wide divergence in Europe as Sweden and Switzerland rose to fourth and fifth respectively, while France and Italy fell to 30th and 39th respectively.
  • India rose because of its performance in technology and macroeconomic environment indexes, while China rose because of gains in the public institutions index.
  • The largest declines were in countries with economic crises, such as Argentina and Turkey.

For more information on the report, go to www.weforum.org/mediacentre.
 

Quality Goal Incentives Offered California Hospitals

Blue Shield of California has announced financial incentives for hospitals that meet widely accepted standards for high quality care. Blue Shield's system, under which co-pays for members of groups of 300 or less are lower at hospitals on its preferred list, will now evaluate hospitals on both quality and cost.

The incentives were introduced after some major state hospitals criticized the new system under which Blue Shield and a few other health plans favored and publicized certain hospitals solely on the basis of lower costs.
 

Presidential Management Award Winners Announced

The 2002 U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Presidential Awards for Management Excellence have been presented.

The three recipients are:

1. The Air Force's 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, NE, for performance and results related to competitive sourcing.

2. The Federal Aviation Administration's Logistics Center in Oklahoma City, OK, for improved financial performance.

3. The Department of Defense's National Imagery and Mapping Agency in Bethesda, MD, for performance results in the area of strategic management of human capital.

The president's quality award program was reoriented last year to focus on accomplishments that further the administration's performance objectives. For information on the program, visit www.opm.gov/pqa.
 

ISO Technical Report Links Business, Environmental Goals

A new technical report from the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO, is designed to enable organizations to identify the likely effects of their future products on the environment and make decisions during the design and development stages to improve environmental performance.

ISO/TR 14062, Environmental Management--Integrating Environmental Aspects Into Product Design and Development, describes concepts and current practices relating to the integration of environmental aspects through the six typical stages of design and development: planning, conceptual design, detailed design, testing/prototype, market launch and product review.

ISO/TR 14062 is available from ISO national member institutes (info@ansi.org in the United States or info@scc.ca in Canada) and the ISO central secretariat at sales@iso.org.
 

U.S., Canada Cooperate On ISO Accreditation

A harmonization committee, consisting of representatives from the American National Standards Institute-Registrar Accreditation Board National Accreditation Program (ANSI-RAB NAP), the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), the International Association of Accredited Registrars, the Canadian Conformity Assessment Conference, and SCC and ANSI-RAB accreditation auditors, held its first meeting to enhance mutual recognition.

Under the mutual recognition agreement, the ANSI-RAB NAP and SCC have agreed ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 registration certificates issued by their accredited certification/registration bodies are equivalent.
 


NEW ISO HEAD: Alan Bryden, former director general of France's national standardization institute, ANFOR, is new secretary-general of the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO.

FREE E-LEARNING PROGRAM: The American National Standards Institute has introduced its first Web based e-learning program, Why Standards Matter. The complimentary program is available at www.standardslearn.org.

SAMSUNG EXPANDS SIX SIGMA: Samsung India plans to extend its Six Sigma quality assurance initiative from production to all functions of the organization. With more than 100 projects already completed, the organization has a target of about 500 Six Sigma projects by the end of this year.

MANUFACTURING RECOVERY EXPECTED: U.S. purchasing and supply executives expect economic growth to gain strength in 2003. The Institute of Supply Management's 64th semiannual economic forecast predicts a manufacturing recovery, with revenue growth of 5.4%, capital spending up 4.6% and capacity utilization at 79.2%. For details, visit www.ism.ws/ISMReport/SemiannualROB122002.cfm.


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