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A More Efficient Denver

How a five-year-old program has been saving the city money and time.

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Whether Democrat or Republican, we can all agree that government isn’t the most efficient beast. Yet things are getting better in the Mile High City, thanks to the Denver Peak Academy. Mayor Michael Hancock created the organization, which launched in August 2012, and its efficiency coaches have been teaching city agencies how to operate more effectively ever since. So far, these innovations have taken little effort and have saved taxpayers (that’s you!) $22.5 million. Plus, they’ve made your life easier. Let us count the ways.


$45,000: Raised by the Denver Public Library (DPL)

DPL sold rarely circulated books, CDs, and DVDs instead of letting them gather dust on the shelves. Staffers then used part of the windfall to record a 45 rpm vinyl record featuring two local bands: the Raven And The Writing Desk and Accordion Crimes. The album was designed to promote Volume, a DPL website that allows you (assuming you have a library card) to download and stream music from Colorado bands for free.

14,331: Flowers and shrubs planted in the correct beds

The city’s horticulturists used to have to find their own blooms in Denver Parks and Recreation’s 16 greenhouses and often grabbed the wrong ones. Now, managers pull the plants ahead of time. You can glimpse the 2,160 zinnias, 844 geraniums, and 180 petunias in Washington Park’s eye-catching, organized designs during your evening run.

50 percent: Decrease in the average animal shelter stay

The Denver Animal Shelter used to hold on to dogs registered to owners for up to a month before adopting them out. After looking at the agency’s data, the Denver Peak Academy found almost all owners who claim their pets do so within three days. That prompted staffers to let new families adopt pups after they had spent a few days at the shelter—meaning you can take home the shaggy darling with the “love me” eyes sooner rather than later.

70 minutes: Time waiting in line at the DMV saved

You used to have to wait an hour and a half to renew your car registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Now the DMV sends a pre-addressed envelope (rather than just a reminder) when your year is up so you can pay the fee from home. As a result, the in-person wait has dropped to 20 minutes, since most people would rather drop a check in the mail than visit the saddest place on Earth.

5 months: Decrease in the amount of time you have to wait to become a foster parent

More than 2,600 kids were removed from Denver homes by social services or child welfare agencies in the past year—and only 1,884 certified foster homes exist in all of Colorado. That might be because it used to take a full 12 months to become a foster parent. One of the barriers: The required orientation class wasn’t offered on a regular basis. Now it’s held every two weeks, meaning you could foster a child in less than seven months.

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