Federal Web-based Complaint Handling

AIMD-00-238R: Published: Jul 7, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 2000.

Additional Materials:


Joel C. Willemssen
(202) 512-6253


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the use of the Internet to facilitate the submission and resolution of federal customer complaints, focusing on the: (1) type and extent of web-based complaint mechanisms provided by 32 federal agencies which handle 90 percent of the federal government's contact with the public; and (2) status of two federal efforts to develop central Internet-based gateways: and FirstGov.

GAO noted that: (1) most major federal agencies are using the Internet to provide an electronic means for citizens to lodge complaints; (2) 21 of the 32 high-impact agencies provide an electronic mail (e-mail) link on their web sites for citizens to submit comments or complaints; (3) seven agencies provided on-line access to structured complaint forms for specific federal programs; (4) four of these seven allowed citizens to complete and forward the form on-line, while three others had forms that could be downloaded, printed, and mailed to the agency; (5) 28 agencies allowed the public to send e-mail comments about their home pages to the agency's webmaster; (6) 29 agencies provided postal addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers for federal program contact points; (7) although 29 of the 32 agencies provided some type of on-line customer contact mechanism or link, these links were not always easy to find; (8) 15 agencies did not offer a link for public comments on its home page, and 5 agencies required clicking on three or more links before a customer could access the feedback mechanism; (9) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the General Services Administration (GSA), have developed or are developing central customer-oriented Internet web sites; (10) the FTC initiated the site in 1995 with a budget of $25,000; (11) the site provides links to consumer information on 168 federal web sites; (12) the FTC encourages federal web sites to provide links to on their web sites; (13) rather than providing links to agencies, it presents the consumer with information and links to complaint forms grouped by topic or subject area; (14) thus, a consumer does not have to know which agency to contact to submit a comment or lodge a complaint; (15) GSA is developing an Internet gateway called FirstGov, formerly known as WebGov; (16) the prototype site provides links to about 2,500 federal web sites, but does not have a link to agency complaint forms yet; (17) links to all kinds of agency forms, including complaints, are likely to be included in the next update to the system; (18) GSA is using the pilot to clarify the functional requirements of the system so that the agency can issue a contract to build the initial stage one public launch version of FirstGov search service; (19) GSA estimates that it will need $5 million to $7 million annually to publicly launch the project, which is to be contributed to by other federal agencies; and (20) GSA is in the process of developing a project plan, which will include a schedule for launching the project and sustaining the service annually.

Sep 25, 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Sep 10, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Aug 31, 2020

Aug 27, 2020

Aug 19, 2020

Jul 9, 2020

Jul 1, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here