An innovative pilot launched in the nation’s capital last month posted its first set of customer grades for five high-profile government departments. Top marks went to D.C.’s Public Works Department, the only agency to emerge with a score in the “B” range, which many credit to its handling of the severe storm that caused widespread power outages and other crippling damage to Washington, D.C., in late June.

Each of the five agencies included in the initial rollout of the Grade.DC program posted minor improvements over initial marks, with the exception of the often-maligned DMV, whose scores remained flat at “C-.”

Grade DC: Initial Grades Revealed

Transportation

June C-

July C+*

June grade is based on 311 customer reviews.

Consumer and Regulatory Affairs June C-

July C+*

June grade is based on 117 customer reviews.

Public Works

June C+

July B*

June grade is based on 135 customer reviews.

Motor Vehicles

June C-

July C-*

June grade is based on 339 customer reviews.

Parks and Recreation

June C-

July C*

June grade is based on 134 customer reviews.

*July grades are as of July 18, 2012.

The Grade.DC project reflects an innovative partnership between the District of Columbia government and a local social media analytics firm. A tool used broadly in the retail and restaurant industries, customer feedback offered through Web-based feedback forms and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is analyzed and presented as actionable data that can be used by departments to improve customer service.

The initial launch includes five agencies offering public-facing services. According to the office of Mayor Vincent Gray, an additional list of 10 departments still to be determined will be added to the Grade.DC platform this fall. To date, feedback is steadily pouring in on the departments of Parks and Recreation, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Transportation, as well as Motor Vehicles and Public Works.

An upward trajectory in departmental scores, however small, comes when a dose of good news is especially welcome at City Hall. Questions persist about the conduct of campaign aides working on behalf of Gray, who won a hotly contested mayoral election in 2010 against incumbent Adrian Fenty.

Visitors to the Grade.DC site can see current department grades, as well as data on major themes, both positive and negative, that emerge from customer feedback. Each department also presents plans to improve in response to the feedback. Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, for example, promises to add information and applications to its website to better serve customers. Enhanced staff training programs are promised in several agencies. Gray’s office told Government Technology last month that department grades will be updated on a monthly basis.

Noelle Knell, Assistant Web Editor Noelle Knell  |  Managing Editor

Government Technology managing editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of marketing and communications experience, writing about public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she graduated from the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.