Denver park permits should focus more on customer satisfaction, auditor says

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Ferril Lake in City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Parks and Recreation focuses too much on volume and hours instead of people when it’s giving out picnic permits and other space rentals, according to a new report from the city auditor.

“We appreciate that the existing performance measures are ‘output’ oriented, tracking the number of permits issued and the hours that the various sites are used,“ said Auditor Timothy O’Brien.  “However, we’d like to see Parks also track whether permits were issued efficiently and whether permit applicants were satisfied with the process.”

Though part of DPR’s mission is customer satisfaction, the current program that distributes permits tracks the number of permits issued, but not if if customers were satisfied with their experience, the audit found.

DPR says that they already have a system for customer satisfaction for the major permits, but plan to expand the system to all permit types by the end of the year.

Additionally, DPR should be evaluating its fees more often to see if they are adequately offsetting the cost of maintaining the park, the audit said.

DPR agreed that this was a good idea, but declined to make it into formal policy.

“The complexity and scope of the task, available resources, inadequate citywide cost accounting infrastructure, and other Departmental priorities restrict the Department’s ability to perform this analysis on an optimal frequency,” the agency responded in the report.

Instead, they promised:

“The Department will complete a cost recovery analysis by the end of 2018 and endeavor to perform a cost recovery analysis every 2 to 3 years.”

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