Here’s what good government looks like:

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums wanted to create an online directory for museums in the state, and the default was to outsource the project. But when bids started coming in over budget, they paused and started asking around.

Enter Brian Tober, state agency librarian for the Utah State Library. He had built a similar online directory for public libraries to replace the old one that was dated and impossible to navigate.

Tober showed Arts & Museums leaders what he had set up, and he ended up building out their directory using the same simple WordPress plug-in for a one-time cost of $39, saving taxpayer dollars. Thanks to Tober’s resourcefulness and commitment to serving the public, Utahns and visitors to our state can now easily plan trips and discover museum resources in communities throughout the state with this online tool.

“I am so happy to work in a culture that allows me to think out of the box and be creative in serving the people of Utah,” Tober says. “And I sure do appreciate working for a fantastic department, with great supervisors, that allows for this kind of collaboration!” 

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during an interview at the Capitol in Salt Lake City.
Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during an interview at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. Cox believes that innovation shouldn’t be discluded from government. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Government has the reputation of being cumbersome, slow and full of red tape, and that’s partly by design. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think of ways to improve, streamline and open doors to opportunity. 

Utah is filled with entrepreneurs, and we shouldn’t check our state’s culture of innovation at the government office door. 

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As a result, we’re encouraging state employees to bring their good ideas forward. We’ve asked state workers to routinely look at their roles from a customer’s perspective and explore how we can serve our customers — the public — better.

Are there ways we can streamline the public’s experience online? Can we reduce wait times or eliminate travel? Can we connect folks to needed services more efficiently?  

From applying for driver licenses to making reservations at a state park to paying taxes, we’re asking state employees to challenge the status quo and be “recklessly good.”

By that we mean thinking outside the box to solve customer problems. Being bold in implementing new solutions. Not being afraid to fail. 

Rich Saunders speaks at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. Saunders is the chief innovation officer for Utah. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

We are grateful to our dedicated state workers and our executive leadership teams who have helped us define guiding principles, challenges and opportunities in this effort. 

These principles — available here — include starting from a mindset of “yes” and working toward “how”; expecting change and nimbly adapting to it; learning from our mistakes quickly and scaling good ideas; and implementing improvements with excellence and fidelity to our missions and values.

Changing the status quo can be scary and hard. Fear of failure and fear of backlash can undermine our willingness to try new things.

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But we want all state employees to take responsible risks. We’re challenging state employees to bring their ideas and creativity to work everyday. 

And we’re asking the public to take the time to tell us how we’re doing.

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Tell us about your experiences with state government by using the feedback buttons on our websites, QR codes at many of our state offices and surveys. You can also share your feedback at

Please tell us where we can improve. And, of course, we’d also love to hear when we’re doing things right. 

Your experience with us matters! Engage with us and help us learn how state government can serve you better.

Gov. Spencer Cox is Utah’s 18th governor. Rich Saunders is the first chief innovation officer for the state of Utah.

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