Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: King County, Customer Service And Public Trust

by Matt Rosenberg August 5th, 2010

Yesterday in my weekly segment on KOMO-AM 1000 news radio in Seattle highlighting the work of our Public Data Ferret project, I talked with co-anchors Brian Calvert and Nancy Barrick about our most recent Countywide Community Forums Opinionnaire survey on how King County is doing on customer service, public trust and public engagement. Here’s my original Ferret write-up on the final report prepared by the King County Auditor’s Office, and here’s the audio of the KOMO segment. The transcript follows.

Brian Calvert: “You were asked and you have reported, how well you think King County is doing in the customer service department. Matt Rosenberg, with communityforums.org joins us this morning. Matt, the survey was conducted by your organization. What exactly did you ask?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Well, Countywide Community Forums, Brian and Nancy, holds these small, in-person meetings and then asks people to respond in a survey, several times a year. We asked people – and we had 306 respondents – how they thought the county was doing on customer service, public trust and public engagement. It’s all crunched into a final report. The whole program is privately funded, by Dick Spady of Dick’s Drive-Ins. And county government is involved in a lot of things. Just really quickly, to give a little context here, and then I’ve got some results for you, definitely. King County handles criminal justice, law enforcement, public health, social services, elections, property assessment, wastewater, transit, it goes on and on. So, what we heard was that the county got high marks for overall satisfaction with county institutions, (and) they got high marks for overall customer service and the county Web site. But there were some areas of concern. Our citizen volunteers said they felt the county needs to do better at listening; to be more willing to be influenced by them; and they want shorter wait times for in-person service, and more knowledgeable help on the phone.”

Nancy Barrick: “Are these people that you interviewed, are these people who are kind of used to dealing with government?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Yeah, our citizen volunteers come from all walks of life, and it’s a very diverse group, actually, racially, economically, geographically, all within King County, though. And we hold these small meetings and we heard some interesting things too, Nancy, in the comment section. Folks said they’d like every department to have a blog to provide information and promptly answer questions posed there. They like that interface. They want more transparency with cost-benefit analyses of major expenditures, and they also said they’d like to make the budget process more participatory, and that leads right into our next round in September. We’re going to be asking people to give us their input (on) specific questions on the county budget dilemma, which will still exist even if that sales tax hike is passed.”

Brian Calvert: “So Matt, if I didn’t participate in this (last) survey, is there any way that I can check in with you to participate in this next round?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Oh yes, absolutely, and we very much want people to do that. We suggest they go to communityforums.org. Now, that’s our regular site and it’s up now, but we suggest they check in to register in late August, because we’re doing a total re-vamp of the site and the registration process to make it a lot simpler and easier for folks.”

Nancy Barrick: “Okay, that works for most of us. Thank you. Matt Rosenberg, of communityforums.org.”

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