County CIO Reforms a Redundant Paper-Based California DMV Process

Kevin Dickey, CIO and chief information security officer of Contra Costa County, Calif., reforms a redundant Department of Motor Vehicles paper application process for all the state's counties.

by / December 16, 2009

Photo: Kevin Dickey, CIO and chief information security officer, Contra Costa County, Calif./Photo courtesy of Kevin Dickey

One bureaucratic process between California counties and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will soon be history, thanks to Kevin Dickey, deputy CIO and chief information security officer of Contra Costa County, Calif.

For years, the DMV forced the numerous business units within all of the counties to fill out a thick application for continuing those counties' data access arrangements with the DMV. Completing the applications has been a nuisance for county CIOs because they have to help each business unit with the technology aspects of the application every time a business unit needs to complete one.

"We have 17 different business units in my county that DMV sends a separate package to," Dickey said.

Different units get the packages at different times of the year, meaning Dickey and other county CIOs have to go through the process several times annually. Getting the completed applications approved by the DMV is another headache, according to Dickey.

"After heading over to the DMV, the package goes through a minimum of four different business units over there. If any one of those business units doesn't like the way I crossed a 't' or dotted an 'i,' they can reject it and send it back," Dickey said.

In early 2009, he got permission from all California county CIOs to meet with the DMV on their behalf and propose a solution. Dickey suggested the DMV create one application package designed for gathering all of the necessary data from all of the county's business units at once. Since county IT departments had to have a hand in every business unit's application, Dickey suggested county IT departments facilitate completion of the applications. An IT official can supply all IT-related information for all the business units at once and instruct the business units on what they need to contribute. Then the IT official will submit the package to the DMV for approval.

"We're going to save the DMV soft and hard dollar costs significantly as well as all of the counties," Dickey remarked, pointing to the extra processing work that would vanish for both counties and the DMV.

Dickey got the backing of all of the state's county CIOs by circulating a simple e-mail pitching his idea. He was viewed as uniquely suited for the job because of his prior career in state government.

"With my 22 years of prior state service, I knew how the bureaucracy worked, and I knew whom to contact," Dickey said.

He said the policy should go into effect after the final meeting he has scheduled with the DMV to decide a minor detail on Jan. 27, 2010.


Andy Opsahl

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.

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