Zach had a post up yesterday that should be embarrassing to government employees at many levels. I’d like to offer those in power a solution that seems to work very well, and might provide a low-cost, almost foolproof way of identifying these problems in the future: listen to your customers. Though there are various ways to accomplish this, my absolute favorite method is used by Seattle’s Department of Transportation.
SDOT has a blog, and on that blog there is a page set up just to listen to the public. On this page a person can comment, and generally within a few days an SDOT representative comments back. The responses are simple and courteous, but almost always describe what branch of SDOT the problem is being reported to and how a problem is being solved. There’s also a page to report potholes, and they’re usually fixed within a day or two of reporting them.
Imagine if this process existed for King County Metro – it seems highly unlikely those announcements would continue for a year. I’d actually love to see this throughout government.