City Government

City Survey Costs $60 Per Interview

If you get one of those “survey” phone calls like the GUARDIAN did yesterday claiming to be working on behalf of the City of Boise, beware your tax dollars are paying $30,000 for the survey.

That’s right. Boise City Councilors authorized $30,000 to be spent for a mere 500 responses to the survey–that comes out to $60 per interview. They use the answers to “guide the budget priorities” as they did with the $10 million windfall at Christmas.

The contract was awarded last month to an outfit called Northwest Research. Here are the duties outlined in the proposal:

Scope of Work:
1) Build on a previous citizen survey conducted in the spring of 2005 by developing and carrying out a 500 person survey lasting approximately 20 minutes, and deliver a report of the findings to the
Mayor and Council.
2) Facilitate focus groups on key public policy issues such as transportation, growth, etc.
3) Assist City departments with conducting additional customer surveys and feedback mechanisms.
4) Recommend and provide creative technology based tools to enable additional public feedback on
significant issues as they arise.

We would bet one of those “creative technology based tools” found in #4 includes the weekly Team Dave e-mail spam. Hard to criticize a mayor communicating with the public, but when the site has a picture of the candidate in shirt sleeves, it sure looks like a campaign tool to the GUARDIAN. If it had a picture of the entire council and the message–or even other pages on the city site–included other Councilors it may be less suspect.

Since ALL e-mails in the city are a public record, Team Dave–and those who subscribe–need to remember ANYONE can get those addresses for their own campaign spam.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Dave, did you give them an earful on how the budget surplus should be handled? You were probably not Team Dave’s ideal person they were hoping to call.

    By the way phone surveys are going to become an archaic way of gathering information, unless cellphone records are published as landline numbers are. I know many people will never be able to participate in such surveys.

  2. If they would just listen to the people that show up at city council meetings they would not need to spend this money.

    No doubt the questions are crafted to create a specfic result just as other city surveys have been.

  3. So who owns Northwest Research?

  4. Doing surveys of any kind is expensive. I don’t know enough about this one to know whether or not the expense is justified. However, the comment about email addresses being public record may not be entirely true. Idaho law prohibits public entities from supplying “lists of persons” without first securing permission from those on the list. That wouldn’t prohibit someone from getting the list by looking at it on a city computer screen and writing down the email addresses, however. Public employees who provide such a list can be personally fined $1,000.

    EDITOR NOTE– regarding the e-mail addresses. You are correct about the “list” thing. My point was with regard to e-mail being public record and logically the address is part of the message…you have a point with spam.

  5. $60 bucks! Heck,I woulda done the whole thing free of charge so burgermeister Dave and co. coud’ve spent the $30,000 on funding for our homeless shelters, or put it towards the VERY LONG AWAITED de-tox center project, or put it towards a better bus system.

    If City Hall needs to spend 30 big ones to figure out what this city needs maybe we’ve got some local politicos semi-aware of reality, sorta like Bush? I mean our basic needs are starin ’em in the face ,or there in the newspapers, or on TV-sorta like schools with no sprinkler systems or vacant county courthouse palaces- I gotta idea for Mayor & council! Let’s spend less money on projects that accomplish absolutely nothing and spend it all where it will do the most GOOD! What’a think Mr. mayor?

  6. $60/interview at 20 minutes/interview is $180/hour. How do I get a job that pays that? I know. I know.

    Is it Northwest Research Group?

  7. I got one of those calls too—it did not take only 20 minutes but used up about 40 min. many of the questions were repeated using a different answer format….my interviewer when asked did not know how many respondents were on the survey.
    Interesting to see here 500. The questions covered most of my urban concerns. I got 2 ops. to prioritize mass transit in the process.

    EDITOR NOTE– We too took the survey and it had 6-8 questions that made reference to the foothills.
    We felt there was no way to conclude “things are not being handled properly.” It will be either “people are happy” or “we need more money.”

    A town hall meeting with $30,000 worth of promotion and analysis would be more fun!

  8. This is an outrage. 500 comments from a city of 200,000+ hardly makes a survey, especially when the questions are designed to elicit a predetermined conclusion.

    I think it’s time for another recall.

  9. No Name Please
    Feb 12, 2007, 11:13 pm

    They called me and though I do not live in the city I took the survey anyway. All I had to do to be included in the survey was tell the interviewer that I believed I was in the city.

    The questions were convoluted and the Guardian is right that all of the questions were phrased in such a way that the conclusions can only be that the city is doing a great job or it needs more money.

    City tax payers should be pissed that so much money is being wasted on this political scam. The recall idea sounds good. Where is Margret Lawrence these days?

    EDITOR NOTE–No need for a recall. We have an election in November. What we need are candidates.

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