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Time to fix the DMV

By: Assemblyman Kevin Kiley
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At the Department of Motor Vehicles, state employees are sleeping on the job. Literally.

A recent report revealed that one particular employee had a habit of sleeping several hours each day while on the clock. This went on for years without discipline, amounting to $40,000 in taxpayer-funded naptime.

This story offers a particularly vivid illustration of the growing dysfunction of California’s DMV. In the last year alone, wait times have increased by 60 percent in the Sacramento Valley and 48 percent in the Bay Area. California residents are furious, and justifiably suspect that it is not just a single employee, but much of the DMV bureaucracy, that has been asleep at the wheel.

The proximate cause of the crisis is the new federal mandate for REAL ID. Since applications have to be processed in person, DMV offices have seen a surge in foot traffic as they work to service 23 million Californians by 2020. Area residents tell me stories of having to wait months to schedule an appointment – and up to an additional eight hours while in line at the DMV itself.

The truth is, these problems could have been avoided. The DMV has had more than a decade to prepare for the advent of REAL ID, and the agency’s budget has already been supplemented by $70 million. Fast forward to this summer, however, and the DMV has still not met its hiring goals. Furthermore, it has only recently begun offering limited weekend office hours, far short of its promise earlier in the year to expand 8-to-5 services to every Saturday and extend weekday hours to 7 p.m.

Such obvious examples of mismanagement suggest that it would be woefully irresponsible, as recently proposed by the chairman of the Budget Committee, simply to “throw more money at the problem.” The Legislature must take seriously its responsibility for oversight, which means determining whether the DMV has a long-term plan for reducing wait times; investigating how the DMV has spent the $23 million provided so far to speed up services; and establishing how the DMV intends to measure program performance and improve effectiveness.

To that end, I have joined several colleges in the Legislature to call for an audit. This will provide a roadmap for streamlining the DMV’s bureaucracy, establishing better organizational goals and improving management and services.

Californians deserve an efficient, modern DMV where service is quick, simple and painless. What they are getting instead is stress, headaches and lost time. It is past time to change this, and I am calling on all of my colleagues in the Legislature to join our drive to Reform the DMV.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley represents the 6th Assembly District, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento counties. He will be holding a community coffee on Saturday, August 18th from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Norm Rowett Pavilion in El Dorado Hills (1021 Harvard Way).