California Holds Off on $40M for DMV Fixes, Real ID Processing

The Department of Finance has delayed the embattled agency’s request for the money as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s DMV Strike Team prepares for a top-to-bottom overhaul.

by Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle / January 29, 2019
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(TNS) — California’s Department of Finance is delaying a request for $40.4 million to reduce wait times and process Real IDs at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The department asked for the money early this month, when Gov. Jerry Brown was still in office. But now that a new governor has stepped in — and announced aggressive reforms to the beleaguered DMV — finance officials decided it would be prudent to hold off.

“We’ll take it up in the spring when we have more information at hand,” said department spokesman H.D. Palmer.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom took office he created a DMV Reinvention Strike Team to do a top-to-bottom overhaul of the agency, which has struggled with long lines, botched voter registrations and problems with its Real ID rollout.

“By any metric, California DMV has been chronically mismanaged and failed in its fundamental mission to the state customers it serves and the state workers it employs,” Newsom said when he announced the new team. He tapped Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer to lead it for six months, and legislators who keep tabs on the DMV are anxiously awaiting the results.

At the same time, the Department of Finance is conducting an audit that Brown ordered in September to evaluate the DMV’s operations and efforts to upgrade its aging technology systems. Brown’s request followed reports that glitches in the DMV’s software had led to errors in 23,000 voter registration records filed with the secretary of state between April 23 and Aug. 5.

Finance officials expect to release a preliminary report in February.

With those efforts under way and a new executive branch, “we felt it appropriate to say we’re not going to seek immediate additional funding,” Palmer said.

The state will now wait until at least the end of April to increase the DMV’s budget. Palmer said the department has enough money to sustain its normal operations.

A DMV spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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