The chance to rate government services on Yelp feels like a comedian's dream and a bureaucrat's nightmare: If that hip new Middle Eastern restaurant earns three dollar signs for affordability, what do we rate the IRS -- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?
The company and the federal government announced such a program this week, allowing us to review agencies and experiences.
But if you look at Yelp's "public services and government" section, you see that this already has been happening for all manner of local, state and federal government entities, from sculpture parks to bridges to passport services to, yes, everyone's favorite, the Department of Motor Vehicles. Apparently, seizing the opportunity to share such critiques is in our DNA, and Yelp users never needed the permission of the government to blow off steam about it or sing its praises.
The Elmont Memorial Library on Hempstead Turnpike has 15 reviews going back more than seven years -- and a pretty good reputation. The eight reviewers of the Hauppauge DMV branch, on the other hand, were generally quite unhappy.
People have expressed dissatisfaction with government services in this country since the week the country was founded. We often feel like going straight from the DMV or Transportation Security Administration line to a 12-step meeting on anger management.
Unfortunately, with governments, unlike bars, you can't choose the well-rated TSA checkpoint in Denver but skip the one at LaGuardia because it got negative 67 stars. The federal government says it will use the input to improve. Local and state governments should, too.
We'll believe it when we see it. And while we're waiting, perhaps Yelp ratings for elected leaders and other top officials would remind us what to do if improvements aren't forthcoming.