SOMEWHERE IN THE dingy basement complex of the Home for Destitute Ideas is the world's largest collection of bound and disintegrating government reports, committee studies, overviews, undertakings and selected comprehensive surveys. Off in a corner is large box of dusty blue ribbons worn by people who are regularly selected to participate in these government study projects.
We mention this offbeat monument to bureaucratic momentum because Mayor Marion Barry is in the process of looking for new ways to attract tourists. So far, the search looks awfully familiar. Mr. Barry notes that "after government, tourism is our most important industry," and he is eager to make it grow. He has just announced (guess what) the formation of a committee of distinguished citizens to develop a "unified, high-quality promotional and marketing plan" to push tourism. The plan, of course, is envisioned as "comprehensive" and aimed at making a "critical difference."
With $100,000 in "seed money" (that's low by government standards) and 21 committee members, the study is to be conducted by Grant and Associates, Opinion Research Corp. and the University of the District of Columbia. There's no telling what the committee's recommendations will be, but here again, your guess is as good as its, we suspect. For its conclusion, how about something like this: "A fundamental approach to improved tourism in the nation's capital should be linked to the maximum extent possible with attractions that lure people into the central city and its surrounding metropolitan areas"?
Washington is not only a wonderful town to visit, but a grand place to live. There's nothing wrong with a promotional campaign. But before this committee meets too many times to draft reports for revisions, subcommittee reviews or "community input," the whole proposal for a committee really ought to undergo a feasiblity study -- just as soon as the necessary money and staffing can be assembled.