311 Response Times Improve

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A study by Georgetown University graduate student Lindsay Pettingill show that the D.C. government's response times to 311 calls in D.C. have improved -- and they have improved throughout the city.

    The study arrives at a time when D.C. Council chair and mayoral candidate Vincent Gray has accused incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty of favoring white neighborhoods. The data in fact show that calls for government services have never in fact especially favored white District residents -- and that response times throughout the city have improved.

    Pettingill surveyed every phone call to 311 made between 2000 and 2009, more than 1.5 million calls. Her study reveals that the bulk of the improvement in response time happened during the tenure of former Mayor Anthony Williams, Mayor Fenty's predecessor.

    As the graph shows, the District spent an average of about 40 days to respond to a service call in 2000. Service calls from Georgetown were the least likely to be answered in a timely manner. In 2000, the response times for Georgetown were nearly double that of Navy Yard.

    By 2006, when Mayor Fenty was elected, the Williams administration had for the most part brought things in order. But as the data clearly show, government service call response times have continued to improve over Mayor Fenty's tenure. Moreover, those response times have largely collapsed throughout D.C. Residents throughout the city -- from Trinidad to Penn Quarter -- may expect a roughly two-and-a-half week wait for government service calls.

    "[I]f you see a broken meter outside the Woodley Park Marriott, don’t expect special service because of that green Fenty sign on the nearby lawn," says Georgetown University political scientist , who posted the chart at the Monkey Cage.

    Hopkins, who observes that the American Political Science Association is assembling in the District this week for a conference, says that political scientists tend to present data like these across cities and not within cities. Perhaps they could stick around and make some more friendly charts while they're in town.