California Furlough Drives Online Department of Motor Vehicle Transactions

California DMV sees online transactions increase by 20 percent during furlough days.

by / February 26, 2009

Apparently some Californians weren't dissuaded by closed DMV offices during the state government's first two furlough days on Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.

DMV Internet transactions -- comprising driver's license renewals, vehicle registration renewals, vanity license plates -- were up approximately 20 percent during the three-day "furlough weekends" compared to the corresponding dates in January, according to data from the California DMV obtained by Government Technology.

At face value it's not surprising that more citizens would take advantage of online services when government offices are closed. But it does redeem the value of California DMV's public outreach last month about the available online services.

"Customers conducting DMV business online save time, energy and it is good for the environment," said DMV Director George Valverde in a press release last month. "The DMV Web site offers a convenient alternative for our customers to renew their vehicle registrations, driver licenses and other important activities."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered that state workers take an unpaid furlough one Friday per month through summer 2010 as part of a budget fix to close the state's $42 billion deficit. The original plan called for two unpaid furlough days per month, so the state's DMV offices and most other government buildings were closed Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.

In 2008, 7 million customers used California DMV online transactions -- a 15 percent increase from 2007. Nearly 5.6 million vehicles were registered through the DMV Web site in 2008.

California isn't the only state being forced to rely more on online transactions. Most of Utah's 17,000-person state government work force went to a four-day workweek last summer. Gov. Jon Huntsman made the move in part because he thought the 600 services available to the public on Utah.gov would help offset closed offices on Fridays.

Matt Williams Associate Editor
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