There is a new indication that Americans' trust of government agencies is dropping. The exception: Americans still love the U.S. Postal Service. Other agencies they appreciate: The Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
The ones Americans don't appreciate include the Customs and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services, though the Census Bureau has also seen a dramatic drop in respect.
The ratings come from the Ponemon Institute which yesterday released its annual survey showing how well Americans perceive government agencies handle the challenge of keeping personal information private. Ponemon surveys 9,000 consumers asking them about 75 federal agencies.
Overall, the average approval rating for trust of government agencies dropped to 38% this year, down from 50% in 1009.
The U.S. Postal Service may be talking about dropping a day of mail delivery. Some mail boxes have vanished in budget cutting. Yet still, not only do mail carriers fight off "snow, rain and gloom of night" to do their work. The Postal Service also fought off other agencies to again be named "Most Trusted Government Agency."
It was the sixth time in a row, the Postal Service won the title. The survey said 87% of people trusted the Postal Service, unchanged from last year. The Federal Trade Commission was number two at 79%, down from 83%.
Taking the bronze was the Internal Revenue Service, though 75% of those surveyed said they trusted the IRS, down from 79% last year. Still, that was enough to beat out the National Institute of Health which dropped to number four as its approval numbers dropped to 65% from 72%.
"Nobody like the IRS with regard to paying taxes, but it pays attention to security and privacy," said Michael Spinney, senior privacy analyst for Poneman. "People are able to separate their emotions about paying taxes. You don't hear a lot of bad things coming out of the IRS as to data breaches."
Meanwhile the Census Bureau showed a dramatic drop in ranking. Last year it scored 79% on privacy and among the top five government agencies. This year it scored 39%.
"Clearly it's the political climate this year," said Spinney. The survey was conducted in February before people received their Census Bureau forms and amidst controversy about the census on talk radio.
The worst -rated government agencies were the Customs and Border Protection (16% down from 26% last year), Citizenship and Immigrations Services (17% compared to 30%) and the National Security Agency (20% compared to 21%)
The Postal Service in a statement expressed appreciation for the study.
"When you visit every door every week, trust is critical," said Delores J. Killette, USPS Consumer Advocate and vice president. "It is the cornerstone of our mission to deliver reliable and affordable mail service to every American, as well as a great source of pride for postal employees across the country."
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