Wait Times Even Longer at DMV

As mentioned in an earlier post, the lines at the state DMV are even longer because offices are closed on Wednesdays as the department installs a new computer system and trains staff to use it. The Providence Journal is out with a new story on the problem today, and, given that health care reform was just approved, it serves as a chilling reminder of how awful things could get with government control over health care. The story follows the seven-hour ‘odyssey’ of a former California resident through the lines at the DMV. At the end of it, the ordeal is enough for her to miss California. Ironically, the purpose of the new computer system is to make things more efficient and consumer-friendly. And, as we read through the article, we got a glimpse of just how inefficient the DMV has been:

The agency is replacing a system that is 20 to 30 years old, [according to Sally Strachan, administrator of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.] “We’re coming from the dark ages in this,” she said. “Some of the computer equipment is no longer manufactured, and we have what’s left in the United States.” …

When the new system is in place, all computers and all clerks will be able to handle all common transactions. Instead of seeing one clerk to process a registration, another to process a driver’s license and still a third to take a license photo, all of that can be done by one clerk.

“For the staff, it’s an awful lot of change,” said Strachan. That’s one of the reasons DMV offices have been closed on Wednesdays.

Those who are not familiar with the Windows computer operating system have to learn that.

Clerks have to learn how to process credit cards, which the agency currently does not accept for in-person transactions. …

License and registration records are being matched so that the new system will have one entry for each person, instead of different entries for licenses and registrations. While many records match easily because a driver’s name, address and date of birth are the same in both systems, that’s not always the case. Some may have a nickname in one system and a full first name in the other, or a change of address may have been updated in only one system. “There’ve been a good bunch of these things researched by hand,” Strachan said.


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