2018 Champion City

Washington, DC : 2018 Champion City

Integrating Citizen Feedback into City Hall Decision-making

  • 681,170

  • Muriel Bowser

  • Mayor Council

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Resident Participation

    Issue Area

The Problem

In Washington, D.C., government leaders lack an easily accessible tool that will improve their responsiveness to the city’s nearly 700,000 residents.

The Idea

Washington D.C. will create a dedicated team within its current government structure that will support all city agencies in routinely conducting smart, sophisticated surveys that regularly integrate residential feedback into key decision-making processes.

What Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, DC is saying:

Our idea combines the inclusiveness of Yelp, the immediacy of polling, and the reach and rigor of the Census to ensure that residents’ voices are regularly integrated into our decision-making processes. With this tool, we can increase civic engagement and do more to build a government that is both for the people and by the people.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • How we are testing our idea

    We thought we were testing an affordable housing survey, but we were really testing how like-minded organizations communicate and collaborate.

    Julie Kanzler, City of DC Core Team Member

    Washington DC will test ways to increase civic engagement by creating a clickable prototype of the EngageDC survey app and soliciting feedback from residents on topics and features they would be most likely to use.

  • Ideas into action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    Through the testing process, Washington DC is learning what motivates residents to participate in the city’s surveys. Interesting findings emerged from the team’s InnoMAYtion Hackathon, including the discovery that immediate response to surveys is a priority for residents. They are keen to know that their voices have been heard and that they are impacting the process.

    I don’t think we had pushed as deeply as to why someone would want to engage with this, or the many different reasons why many different people would.

    David Yokum, Director, The Lab

    The Washington team are discovering the importance of how the survey itself looks. They’ve noticed that the design impacts people’s first impressions and likelihood of engaging. Through testing with citizens, they are finding there is ‘sweet spot’ between looking governmental and scientific enough that it looks official and serious, but not so much that it will turn people off.

  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    Through testing, the Washington DC team found that residents really want to input in government decisions, but that they respond best to engagement when it's ‘on their own terms.' For Washington DC, that means engaging residents in teh right place, at a time that suits them, with accessible language, and on subjects that seem relevant. This has become a guiding principle of the program.

    People want to influence what government does. We quickly discovered that we don’t have an apathy problem.

    David Yokum, Director the Lab @ DC