A state audit of the Department of Motor Vehicles' disabled person parking placard program found that it's difficult for enforcement personnel to tap into existing information sources, and that the creation of a new database could be warranted in order to help identify fraud and abuse.
The report made public Tuesday says the most common type of fraud is one person using another person's placard. But there are other issues: The audit found DMV has not canceled placards for 26,000 placard holders who are 100 years and older, so they're likely deceased. Also, there is no limit on the number of replacement placards a person can obtain.
About 2.4 million permanent disabled person parking placards were active as of June 2016
The audit explains that the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) network contains data on placard information, but parking enforcement personnel who aren't sworn peace officers can't readily access it. And "under no circumstances" is that CLETS data available on mobile devices because of the data's sensitivity. In addition, parking personnel conceivably could access DMV's registration system, but it's expensive and so is typically only accessed by the state's largest departments.
The audit continues: "DMV may have an opportunity to create and maintain a database for parking enforcement officials to immediately access the validity of placards. Given the limitations that parking enforcement faces in accessing placard information, we asked about the feasibility of DMV developing its own database containing only the information necessary to identify valid placards. According to the registration division chief, DMV could create and maintain a database containing all canceled and inactive placards, and update that database regularly. However, he explained that the two remaining channels for access to placard information afford users immediate access. However, parking enforcement cannot obtain direct access to either channel."
The audit recommends that DMV develop and implement an application, database or other technology that will allow non-sworn parking enforcement officials to have immediate access to information on placard status.
DMV, in its response to the audit, said it will "expeditiously" explore the feasibility and cost of such a technology, but noted "it has concerns with the proposed timeline given other pending high-priority information technology projects, some of which are statutorily required."
"All six parking enforcement officials we spoke to indicated that if DMV developed such an application, their agencies would use that technology," the audit says.
Another recommendation from the auditor would require DMV to use the federal death master file to help identify deceased placard holders and cancel their placards.
Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2