This week's book giveaway is in the OCMJEA forum. We're giving away four copies of OCM Java EE 6 Enterprise Architect Exam Guide and have Paul Allen & Joseph Bambara on-line! See this thread for details.
The width CSS style attribute doesn't work on outputText, since outputText renders with the style attached to a span element, and width doesn't work with span. You'll do better using the columnClasses attribute on the panelGrid itself.
As yo why the spacing, I can only venture a guess that given so much free space to play with, the table renderer decided that that was a good column width in the absence of anything more explicit.
Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.