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Angry at the gov't? Give it a Yelp!

Employees of the online review site Yelp at

Employees of the online review site Yelp at the East Coast headquarters of the tech company on October 26, 2011 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

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 affordabilty, what do we rate the IRS -- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?

The company and the federal government announced such a program this week, allowing us to review agencies, branches 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 U.S. Social Security Administration office on William Street in Manhattan has 52 reviews going back more than two years, and a sterling reputation. The five reviewers of the Morris Park post office in the Bronx, on the other hand, were not happy.

People have expressed dissatisfaction with government services in this country since the week the country was founded. It's no secret that we often feel like going straight from the DMV or Transportation Security Administration line to a 12-step meeting on anger management.

Unfortunately, with government services, 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.


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