Dec. 25: America's Future: Colorado Trims the Waste in Its Bloated Budget

DENVER --  Surveys often list Colorado as one of the most physically fit states in the nation. Now, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter wants to rank it as one of the most fiscally fit as well.

Ritter is putting his state on a diet in an effort to have the state behave in the same way as individuals feeling a pinched budget.

Under a program the state calls the Government Efficiency and Management review, or GEM, the Ritter administration surveyed employees across the state for ideas on how to cut the fat. It received 12,000 responses.

"You know you have a revenue stream, you don't have a line of credit," he said. "We're going to have to cut the budget because of the downturn, but this is about waste and duplication."

Out of the recommendations came a projected $205 million in five-year cost-savings, customer-service efficiencies and other benefits.

"They know. They've been there every single day and they know how to get these things right," Mark Cavanaugh, director of Government Efficiency Initiatives, said of the staff recommendations. "Any opportunity there is to stretch a taxpayer dollar."

Nothing was safe from the GEM review. If employees could see with it (low energy lights), put stuff in it (mailboxes), get stuff out of it (refrigerators) or use it (toilets), they found a way to use it less or expend less energy or time in its use.

Several of the recommendations have already been turned into changes. For instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles went online for renewals or updates, and now many people can skip traditional emissions tests. That's because the state recently doubled the number of rapid screen vans, which get readings as cars pass by them in traffic. That means folks don't have to deal with "drive-in" emissions tests anymore.

Ritter said he saved the state $600,000 just by doing what families do all the time.

"The whole world knows you can pool minutes on cell phones and you can actually save money," he said.

Sean Paige, who runs the think tank Limited Government Reform, said he believes the state could go even further and send some jobs to the private sector. But he urged the governor to stick to it.

"It's hard to make government efficient, but it's worth the effort," he said. "To persevere and stay on it day in and day out, month in, month out over the years. That's hard to do."

FOX News' Alicia Acuna contributed to this report.