Gov lessons from Facebook's 'like' tag

Tuesday - 3/8/2011, 5:29pm EST

Steve Kelman, professor of public management, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

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The "Like It" feature on Facebook is a simple, easy-to-use rating system.

Such a rating system could help government agencies evaluate everything from their service to the public to vendor performance, said Steve Kelman, professor of public management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

"The key is you gotta make it simpler or people won't do it," Kelman said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

A disincentive now for agencies to obtain past performance on contractors are the "complex, bureaucratic forms," Kelman said.

However, if government agencies can simply click a thumbs up or down or rate a vendor on a scale of one to five, government customers get an instant snapshot of past performance, he said.

Another way to evaluate vendors is to include a rating system at the end of vouchers sent electronically. Agencies can rate how the vendor has performed that week, providing trend data that helps not only government customers but the contractors as well.

"If I were a contractor, I'd want this as an early warning signal," Kelman said.

Read Kelman's blog post in Federal Computer Week.