Rate my public servant? Right on!

Last week, I concluded by suggesting we use the Internet to hold government departments and agencies and individual public servants accountable. As the service quality literature says, every interaction at an agency's front lines is a moment of truth.The Internet would be a great place to read about citizens' reactions to these moments of truth.This is already happening in the broader public sector. On www.ratemyteachers.com, primary and secondary school students and their parents post comments about teachers.There is a global Web site (www.ratemyprofessors.com) posting feedback about university professors, and an English-language site (covering the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) with thousands of posting by patients about their medical doctors (www.ratemds.com). Check these sites out.Moving from the broader public sector to a core public service, there is now a U.S.-based Web site (www.ratemycop.com) for feedback about police officers.How about a Web site for feedback about public sector organizations and the public servants who work for them? Rate my public servant? Rate my bureaucrat? It doesn't exist yet.You can imagine objections to this. Some departments might say that they already survey citizens and that a Web site for feedback would be unscientific and prone to manipulation. In response I say that their surveys may be biased, set up to elicit favoured responses.Also, surveys may not be released publicly or, if information is released, it is done selectively to make the department look good.As discussed in the New York Times on Saturday, March 22 some law enforcement officials are claiming that www.ratemycop.com exposes officers to resentment and reprisals.The site developers argue that they provide no identifying information about officers beyond what would appear in the public domain. Indeed, they built the site by asking for and receiving from thousands of departments the names and badge numbers of their officers.So isn't it time Canadian citizens had a site where they could provide comments, both criticism and praise, about service provided by departments and the public servants who work for them? The virtue of posting online is that the feedback is there for all to see.The hope is that naming and shaming will lead to service improvement.I conclude with a follow-up from last week. I emailed a link to my blog to Toronto's chief administrative officer, chief information officer, and head of Toronto water, as well as my councilor, and have received no response. As lawyers say, “res ipsa loquitur” – that speaks for itself.Next week I'll shift focus from public service laggards like Toronto Water to the leading edge. I'll be at a global conference on innovation in government at Harvard's Kennedy School. Expect my next post on Friday April 4.

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