Project Abstract

Colorado’s state government actively instituted and expanded efforts to improve government through performance management, process improvement, and talent development during the Hickenlooper administration (2011-2019). The administration’s major performance improvement initiatives included: the SMART Government Act; the Governor’s Dashboard; Lean process improvement; and the Performance Management Academy, among others. The efforts to make government “effective, efficient, and elegant,” the so-called “3 E’s,” were guided by a focus on goals and results alongside a reinvigorated desire to better serve the state’s diverse customers.

This six-report series reflects on the performance improvement initiatives of the Hickenlooper administration to document the experiences, elevate successes, identify challenges, and inform current and future public officials in Colorado and beyond. Qualitative interviews with 13 government leaders who helped shape and guide the governor’s vision, including Governor Hickenlooper himself, and with 24 staff responsible for implementing these initiatives provide the foundation for this series.

The results demonstrate that a data-driven focus on goals, outcomes, and results provided the foundation for the Hickenlooper administration’s performance improvement work. It is also clear that the administration encountered challenges, which included trying to generate buy-in and support for the initiatives, struggling to measure and utilize relevant data, and making do with limited, and sometimes unequal, dedicated resources. In the spirit of continuous improvement, government leaders in Colorado and beyond can learn from the successes and challenges of the performance improvement initiatives championed under Governor Hickenlooper’s tenure.


Lieutenant Governor’s Office (initiated under Hickenlooper administration)

Research Partners: 

University of Colorado Denver

Related Releases

The Colorado Lab recently released a six-part series, Learning from the State of Colorado’s Recent Performance and Efficiency Initiatives by Drs. Ely, Swann, and Teske at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver (below). This follow-up report offers insight into Governor Polis’s performance management approach.

Performance Management in the First Year of the Polis Administration


Executive Summary

Learning from the State of Colorado’s Recent Performance Improvement and Efficiency Initiatives

Looking Back, Thinking Forward

Leading Performance Improvement Initiatives in Colorado State Governments

Making it Work (Better)

Implementing Performance Improvement Initiatives in Colorado State Government

Institutionalizing Performance

Colorado’s SMART Government Act

Public Display of Performance

The Governor’s Dashboard in Colorado

Leaning In

Lean Process Improvement in Colorado State Government

Good Government in the States

Placing Colorado in the National Landscape of Performance Improvement Initiatives

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