The Washington Post

District agencies hoping to make the grade with customers

DMV lines taking too long? Tweet about it. That pothole continuing to grow wider with each day? Facebook it. Want to praise a city worker? Text it.

On Wednesday, the District launched an open forum for residents to compliment or criticize the services delivered by city agencies. And it has a Web site — www.Grade.DC.Gov — for residents to leave feedback.

After collecting comments, the company that is developing the site, District-based newBrandAnalytics, will analyze the information and provide an overall grade for each of the agencies.

So, yes, you could help the Department of Public Works earn an A or have a hand in flunking the Department of Transportation.

At a news conference Wednesday at the Department of Motor Vehicles inspection station in Southwest Washington, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said the company will also identify ways in which city departments can improve. And it will try to identify the root causes of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

“It’s important we continue to improve,” Gray said. City services are “only as good as the city workers that do them. There’s no substitute for resident feedback.”

The Web site directs users to a questionnaire that asks for all sorts of information, including “the friendliness of personnel with whom you interacted” and “the cleanliness, convenience, accessibility and/or safety” of the agency. The form also asks about wait times, “clarity of information provided” and whether city employees had sufficient expertise.

The program is beginning with five departments: Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; Transportation; Motor Vehicles; Parks and Recreation; and Public Works. Gray said those agencies were chosen because they have a lot of interaction with residents.

In addition to making use of the Web site, residents are encouraged to employ social media to express their complaints and praise, officials said. But, please, they said, be specific. Tweeting insults won’t help.

“We need to know more specifics,” DMV Director Lucinda M. Babers said. “It’s also going to be helpful for this feedback to get to the appropriate agencies.”

Ten agencies are scheduled to be added in the fall. The estimated cost of the program is $500,000 over three years, city officials said.

During the news conference, Gray said the site already had 25 comments about various agencies. The first report card is scheduled to come out in July.

The company developing the site is known for a similar program that is used in the restaurant, hospitality, retail, travel, and leisure industries.

“We’re going to delve into individual nuances of comments,” said Sean O’Leary, chief executive of the company. The agencies “are sticking their necks out for their clients.”

From the Web to the city’s new 311 smartphone app, D.C. officials said, there are now many ways for the public to be heard. And less-tech-savvy residents can still use the District’s 311 number to offer comment.

“This doesn’t eliminate feedback for anyone. It just recognizes we’ve been in a technology explosion,” Gray said. “As the years unfold, this is going to be like a pencil for people to use.”



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.