Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Government Blog Someone Likes [Updated]

Patt Morrison writes in today's LA Times in praise of government bureaucrats and transparency:

I can hardly believe I'm about to hold up the TSA as a good example, but the Transportation Security Administration has a pretty fair version of just this service. In January, it started a If a blog can be a page-turner, this one is. There's a Facebook-like feature profiling TSA employees, and under a heading called -- believe it -- "Gripes and Grins," the rest of us can cut loose with "can you top this?" stories about airport security, like the one about the passenger who lost a kidney. The TSA screener wanted him to remove the surgical dressing over the foot-long incision, to get a look at the staples in his gut.

I love this blog. It's the cathartic comebacks you were afraid to make at the time. Even if no official ever reads it, it feels righteous just to praise the laudable and dump on the laggards, dullards and power-trippers.

It's disorderly and unscientific -- and scissors out the nastiest complaints; check the Delete-O-Meter feature. But every government agency should have a blog like this. Public service is customer service. If the waiter at Olive Garden can give you a customer comment card with the bill, why can't official America do the same? Why can't every DMV clerk you deal with, every employee at the Bureau of Public Works, every TSA inspector hand you a "how am I doing?" rating card with his or her name on it?

And government agencies had better get there first, before private websites do. Already there's, a month-old, private, L.A.-based website that lets citizens name names and badge numbers after law enforcement encounters.

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