Yelp recently announced it had reached an agreement with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to allow agencies to claim their pages and read and respond to reviews. This is yet another move by the current administration to become more transparent and effectively communicate with the public through new information technology opportunities. I believe transparency almost always leads to net positive outcomes and thus have been a fierce supporter of government’s efforts towards this end. However, creating Yelp pages for government agencies may not be the best way to increase transparency and communicate with the public.
You may not like the policy, but you should love the way the GSA is implementing it. Rather than spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money to create a dedicated website, which would have most likely faced the same challenges of Healthcare.gov, GSA decided to take advantage of the reliable, readily available and, most importantly, free platform offered by Yelp. While the benefits of this policy are yet to be shown, at least its implementation cost is very minimal.
The feedback provided through Yelp can potentially help the administration to assess the current level of quality its services at different locations and potentially monitor the effectiveness of its improvement policies.