CDOT Lean Process Improvement Program Recognized as 2015 Harvard Ash Center Bright Idea in Government

February 18, 2015 - Statewide Transportation Plan - DENVER – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Lean Process Improvement Initiative as a part of the 2015 Bright Ideas program.

To make government more effective and efficient, CDOT launched a Lean process improvement program in 2011. The effort builds the creative and inventive skills of front-line employees to improve larger, cross-functional processes through Lean Rapid Improvement Events and smaller ones through Lean Everyday Ideas.

This year’s Bright Ideas cohort includes 124 programs from all levels of government—school districts; county, city, state, and federal agencies; as well as public-private partnerships—that are at the forefront in innovative government action. CDOT’s Lean initiative was selected from among 500 applicants.

“The Lean program has had an incredible impact on improving businesses processes so CDOT can better and more efficiently serve our customer,” said outgoing Executive Director Don Hunt who helped to initiate the programs.  “By engaging all of our employees in this effort we were able to take processes that have a real impact to our customers and make them faster and more responsive.”

Through the CODT Lean program CDOT now:

  • Hires employees 17% faster, getting qualified to employees to work more quickly
  • Issues Oversize and Overweight Permits 30% faster, enabling commercial vehicles to get their goods to where they need to go
  • Reimburses transit project grantees 75% faster, getting dollars to benefit customers more quickly
  • Uses inventions by CDOT employees to improve environmental safety through a new hydraulic fluid holding box, to improve safety to more quickly repair delineator posts, as well as many more employee innovated Everyday Ideas

“The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, making government work better doesn’t always require massive reforms and huge budgets. Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms.”

This is the fourth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Ash Center,” adds Gary Vansuch, CDOT Director of Process Improvement.  “Everyone, every day is involved in enhancing the services and programs provided to the public. At CDOT, we use Lean and our existing resources to create more value in the work we do on a daily basis by ensuring our processes are effective and impactful.”  

For more information about process improvement at CDOT, visit:


About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit