TSA joins the pages of Yelp

SAN DIEGO CA Aug 20 2015— Watch out TSA: You’ll be joining the ranks of beauty salons, taco stands, and other services reviewed on Yelp, and Uncle Sam says it will take the online ratings into account to improve what the government calls “customer satisfaction.”

Under a deal with Yelp, the government will officially recognize the public’s star ratings on its federal agencies, from the Transportation Security Administration to national parks.

Frustrated travelers have already been turning to the popular site for years to vent about long, slow-moving airport security lines and what some have said are intrusive body scans. Now the public will be able to do it in real time, and the government says it will respond to the comments and use the feedback to improve. People can, among other things, rate bathrooms at national parks, review their experiences with the Internal Revenue Service, or assess the efficiency of the local post office.

“In some ways, it augments our democracy,” said Luther Lowe, Yelp’s vice president of public policy. He said the platform could shine the light on both what works and what doesn’t in the federal government — just as it directs people to the yummiest Indian restaurant in town or the best nail salon.

The General Services Administration made the announcement on digitalgov.gov in a page that resembled a typical Yelp page with the title “Best Public Services and Government in Washington D.C.” It said: “Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use.”

It touted how the platform “hosts insights from real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops,” and added that with the government joining in under the Yelp umbrella, federal agencies can find new ways to better serve taxpayers.

Lowe said there’s no need for TSA agents or other federal officials to worry: Positive reviews already outweigh negative comments on Yelp for businesses, and he doesn’t expect that will change with people reviewing federal agencies. It’ll still take weeks before it is up and running.

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