Does The City’s 311 Service Actually Work? Short Answer — Sometimes

Currently, dc311 is operating at a 31% success rate for graffiti removal requests

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get really fed up with the dc311 service that is supposed to make the lives of District residents easier, not harder. In theory, any resident is supposed to be able to call 311 or go to the City’s online version in order to report the need for city services — everything from graffiti removal to tree trimming, trash collection, and rat abatement.

While I used to call 311, I’ve recently started to use the online service. I thought this would be easier and faster but it seems the only thing that is easier is my ability to track District dysfunction.

My recent case in point was a series of graffiti removal requests I reported on August 28, 2011. All in all I reported 13 street lights with tagging that needed to be removed (or based on the City’s response, painted over). The graffiti was on Georgia Avenue, Park Place, Warder Street, and New Hampshire Avenue. Three days later, I received emails for all 13 requests stating that the service requests were resolved. If this were true, it would be great. But hold on … I’ve learned not to trust these emails based on earlier experiences.

With print outs of all resolved emails in hand, I visited all 13 locations on September 10th to confirm that the work has been completed. I’m sorry to report that only 4 of the 13 graffiti removal requests had actually been accomplished (or 31%). This is abysmal. It is either reflective of pure laziness on the part of the City, or outright fraud. What this does is completely skew the City’s metrics when it comes to analyzing how well they are doing. What this does is make the District statistics look like work crews are doing a bang up job! According to the 311 system, the city was able to handle 13 graffiti requests in three days … but they didn’t.

What is even crazier is that some of the graffiti that was removed was only steps from the next request. So, a City employee and vehicle were at the site — with paint — and addressed one problem while ignoring the other requests that were right there in front of them. Having to send someone out again unnecessarily costs the City money it either doesn’t have or that is needed elsewhere.

As for me, I have once again reported the missed requests and cited the original tracking number. Let’s see if they can do this correctly this time.

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3 Comments on “Does The City’s 311 Service Actually Work? Short Answer — Sometimes”

  1. Greg formerly of Parkview Says:

    I am more disturbed by the Pie chard of 31% and 9,61% equaling 100%.

    Is there some DC public school math in here I am missing?

  2. Greg formerly of Parkview Says:

    chart that is. Chart I say……….Chart!

  3. IMGoph Says:

    Kent: I’ve spoken with DPW, and it turns out there is some method to their madness. I’m going to write about it on my blog very soon. I’m not discounting your complaint, it’s very valid, but there’s a reason we’re seeing what we do. More to come…


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