Residential Satisfaction Survey – 2012 Results

Overall Satisfaction with County Services Has Improved

  • Overall satisfaction with quality of services improved from 87 percent in 2008 to 89 percent in 2012.
  • This was 32 percentage points above the national average of 57 percent.
  • Satisfaction with County services improved or stayed the same in 64 of the 92 questions that were rated in both 2008 and 2012.
  • Arlington County also rated above the national average in 44 of the 51 questions that were assessed against national averages.
  • Overall satisfaction with the County services was generally the same throughout the County.

Satisfaction with the Overall Quality of Life in Arlington County Has Improved

  • Increased significantly from 87 percent in 2008 to 92 percent in 2012.
  • This was 12 percent above the national average of 80 percent.

View the 2012 Satisfaction Survey presentation with additional charts and graphs.

Opportunity for Improvement

Overall, street maintenance and management of traffic flow identified are the most important to improve.

Survey Methodology

  • Most survey questions the same as those asked in 2008.
  • Administered by mail/phone/Internet in April 2012.
  • Survey offered in English and Spanish (112 took the survey in Spanish).
  • Random sample of more than 1,300 households. (243 completed on-line; 472 by mail; 591 by phone).
  • Demographics of the sample matched 2010 Census data for Arlington County with regard to gender, ethnicity and age.
  • Results have a 95 percent level of confidence with a precision of at least +/- 2.7 percent.
  • Home addresses of the survey respondents geocoded to ensure representation across the County and enable GIS mapping.
  • The results assessed against ETC Institute’s national survey as well as specific survey results of communities with populations of more than 100,000.

Other Major Findings

The survey showed significant increases in satisfaction ratings in several categories, including the following:

Survey Areas 2008 (percent) 2012 (percent)
Efforts to prevent crime 69  82
How quickly public safety responds 82  89
Recycling services 81  90
Yard waste removal 77  84
Indoor swimming pools 48  66
Fees charged for programs 55  62
Services to seniors, the availability of 61  69
Services for people on low/fixed incomes
(Note: Human Services overall continues to be a priority area)
41  49


  • There was a significant increase in satisfaction ratings for the courtesy and professionalism of County employees.
  • Satisfaction with the hours of library operation decreased from 2008. This reaffirms the County Board’s recent budget decision to fund more library hours starting July 2012.
  • The survey also indicated opportunities for improvement in several areas, including: efforts to preserve affordable housing; efforts to preserve nature areas, and enforcement of local traffic laws.
  • Residents in Arlington are more satisfied with the County’s efforts to engage the public in decision-making than residents in other communities (51percent Arlington County vs. 43 percent others).

See detailed survey results.

Survey Background

This 2012 survey is the third comprehensive survey to assess resident satisfaction with County services. Arlington County conducted its first comprehensive satisfaction survey in 2004. The County will use the survey results as an additional tool to measure its performance and enable more effective management of community services. Hundreds of cities and counties around the nation use surveys such as this to assess their performance.

About ETC Institute

ETC Institute is a nationally known firm and market leader in conducting opinion research for government organizations. ETC has done research for more than 500 cities and counties in 48 states. Through its proprietary DirectionFinder®, a national benchmarking survey initiative, ETC compared Arlington’s survey results to those of other similar communities with populations over 100,000 across the United States.