As the Department of Motor Vehicles’ information technology systems undergo one of the biggest changes the department has seen in 40 years, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants to outsource more of the department’s work. As a result, the unions aren’t happy.
Malloy introduced legislation last week that allows the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to contract with a third party to offer vehicle registration services, postpones issuance of vessel titles until 2018, and permits residents to register their vehicle even if they haven’t paid property taxes or parking tickets. The title of the legislation is called “An Act Decreasing Wait Times at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Wait times increased this fall after the department closed for more than a week to upgrade its computer systems. The $25-million upgrade caused some unforeseen problems, including an unknown number of drivers mistakenly losing their registrations over insurance paperwork, and also forced former DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala to apologize to the public. Ayala later resigned in January.
“Long wait times experienced by customers at the DMV is simply unacceptable, and that’s why we’re outlining common sense proposals to lower them,” Malloy said. “This enhanced flexibility best serves the customer, allows private contractors to conduct most routine motor vehicle transactions, and most importantly, decreases wait times at the DMV.”
Malloy contends that government needs to find ways to improve customer service, but the unions aren’t happy.
“The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles is already an outsourcing disaster,” Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said.
She said over the past year the public has witnessed what happens when work is outsourced and there’s no data on whether it will save the state money in the long run.
“The software upgrade, done by a private, for-profit company, has caused increased wait times and listed vehicles in the wrong municipalities. It’s obvious that outsourcing IT work has been a terrible failure. And for reasons that defy logic, we have bills that would continue to outsource and privatize the DMV,” Pelletier said. “Why continue to waste taxpayer dollars on needless privatization schemes when state workers can do it right the first time and for less money?”
AFT Connecticut First Vice President Jean Morningstar said the outsourcing of the information technology was just the most recent in a “long line of outsourcing failures that could and should have been avoided.”
However, “the administration appears ready to double-down on another risky contracting scheme. If it fails — like so many previous privatization bungles — state residents will be left with the tab and suffering from degraded services,” Morningstar said.
Morningstar serves on the State Contracting Standards Board, which has been unable to meet to go over contracts because the governor has yet to fill the vacancies on the board and it doesn’t have a quorum.
“It’s made worse by the admission of the governor’s budget chief last week that he had no idea how much state officials are already spending on outsourced public projects,” Morningstar said.
But Malloy contends the legislation will help the public interact with the DMV.
By allowing residents with delinquent property taxes and parking tickets to register their vehicles, it is expected that the number of customers having to make duplicative trips to branch offices will be minimized, and as such, contribute to reduced wait times and an enhanced customer experience. Malloy also believes that postponing the issuance of vessel titles until Dec. 31, 2018 will free up more backroom staff resources to address the immediate issue of reducing wait times in branches.
And allowing the state to enter contracts with private contractors — such as AAA — to provide vehicle registration services, will reduce wait times at DMV branches. Currently, AAA only provides non-commercial driver’s license services.
The bill was referred to the legislature’s Transportation Committee.