Americans give Uncle Sam a surprising positive review

Last Updated Jan 31, 2017 5:50 PM EST

How good a job is the federal government doing? Given the new administration in the White House, it might seem that Americans weren’t all that happy with federal agencies’ job performance under President Barack Obama. 

Yet a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index is providing some surprising positive insight on the government’s performance at the tail end of the Obama era. At the same time that the electoral college votes pushed Donald Trump to victory in the November, citizens ranked their satisfaction with the federal government at its highest in four years, the survey found

The measure can help gauge how well the federal government is providing basics such as information and customer service. It’s important to note that the ACSI doesn’t measure how citizens view the government’s policies or laws, but instead assesses how Americans rate federal departments’ performance in providing services. 

Website performance was a top factor in boosting citizens’ satisfaction with the government, the study said. The Department of Health and Human Services saw an 8 percent boost in citizen satisfaction, which the ACSI said was likely due to more people interacting with the department through the Affordable Care Act.   

Ironically, the jump in Health and Human Services’ satisfaction level comes as President Trump and Republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal and replace the ACA, which the agency administers. It’s unclear what type of plan might replace the current law and its health care exchanges. 

“As the impending repeal and replace of the ACA legislation moves forward, the effects on citizen satisfaction will be important to track,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman, in a statement. 

The top-rated federal agencies are the Department of the Interior and the Department of State, which both received a score of 78 points. The bottom-ranked agency is the Treasury Department, which received a score of 59. Since the Treasury oversees the IRS, its low ranking may be related to Americans’ views on taxes. 

The four-year high for satisfaction comes after the federal government sank in estimation last year. The survey was based on interviews with 2,380 people in November and December of 2016. This past year, the government still is near the bottom of the list, tying with municipal utilities, just above Pay-TV and Internet Service Providers.