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Colorado Lt. Governor Donna Lynne. (cpr.org)
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Lt. guv wants to take state’s customer service ‘to the next level’

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Want Colorado state government to treat you more like a paying customer, not just another faceless taxpayer? Then you’ll be glad to know customer service by state agencies, as well as overall efficiency and openness in the state bureaucracy, are getting renewed attention from the top and are showing signs of improvement.

…Yes, even at the DMV.

That’s the upshot of testimony to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee today by Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who updated the lawmakers about progress on Colorado’s 6-year-old State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive and Transparent Government Act, known as the SMART Act.

Lynne became lieutenant governor in May, after a 20-year career as a top executive with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. She doubles as the state’s chief operating officer to make government work more efficiently, which she cited as her top priority from the beginning.

She told committee members she has visited 43 of the state’s 64 counties since taking office, inspecting the tramway in Keystone; visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles in Grand Junction; touring the Department of Human Services Office in Springfield—the list goes on.

Lynne said the governor’s office intends to accelerate work on customer service by state departments. The governor’s office is expanding its website to show the public what the state is doing to be more accountable and transparent and provide feedback.

She said the Department of Natural Resources has resolved 73 percent of oil-and-gas complaints in less than 30 days this year, up from  22 percent. The state has started online chats and more walk-in services for the Department of Regulatory Affairs and Department of Local Affairs, as well, she said.

Lynne said the state has cut wait times at Department of Motor Vehicles offices, with progress toward getting wait times under 15 minutes by 2018.

“We need your help to take our customer service to the next level,” she said, turning to the budget writers for help and noting a $500,000 request for matching funds to operate a performance-management academy for state employees.

“I’ve often been asked, ‘What’s your biggest surprise about working in state government?’ having come from the private sector for 20 years, and it’s not the pace in which we do things, it’s not the willingness to get work done,” Lynne told the lawmakers. “It has been how important it’s been for us to work not just on creating metrics but creating a great culture to make the state a great place to work. That’s some of the work we do when we invest in our employees, when we invest in the tools to be able to help us do this work.”

She said the progress indicators are part of each department’s budget with a means of quantifying the return on how money is spent. She said city and county leaders are interested in following the state’s lead.

“We need to reassure our taxpayers they’re getting value for what they give to us,” Lynne said. “As we ask them for more money, we need to commit to delivering a result.”

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