The Alliance for Innovation presented the city of Las Vegas with a 2013 Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Award for its aggressive Development Services Process (DSP) program, which increases both the quality and speed of development services.

The program has already paid off, according to Diane Santiago Cornier, the DSP's enterprise project manager, telling Government Technology about a 1,000-house subdivision now in the planning process. "We haven't seen that kind of activity in the last three years," she said.

According to Cornier, with or without the serious consequences of the recession, the DSP program was overdue. "Many of our business processes were severely broken," said Cornier. "Departments were still operating in silos the way they had for 20 years."

Aging technology and infrastructure, coupled with budget cuts that impacted staffing levels, were taking their toll. In addition, applicants had to obtain business licenses through the city's finance department, despite their close association with development services.

"Our goal was to combine services from across many separate divisions," said Patricia Dues, information technology manager of the DSP project. "The customer shouldn't need to ask where he needs to go. He should be able to walk in the door and have someone help him. It is a development services issue or initiative that he's there to see us about, and we're going to help him get through the process as simply as possible."

Cornier explained that the streamlined process allows staff to alert customers up front about complicating factors that could potentially delay their license -- such as entitlement issues or special conditions.

Another potential cause for delay was a dizzying amount of choices for customers -- a year and a half ago, Las Vegas had 450 license categories. So far, that number has been collapsed down to 319, and officials are optimistic that it will continue to decrease to less than 200 by the end of 2013. At the outset, many categories were very narrow, or similar to one another, leading to confusion.

"We've done a great deal of cleaning up there and have also changed many ordinances. All of this has streamlined the various processes and tightened their alignment with the planning, building safety and fire departments," Cornier explained.

Scott Amundson  |  Contributing Writer

Scott Amundson has written for a number of fine publications, including Attorney-at-Law Magazine and The Suit Magazine. He also contributes to the Oklahoman and the Journal Record.