Once again, my trials and tribulations with the DMV have brought the importance of e-government to light. This time, I was attempting to procure my driving record from three different states. Needless to say, my experience with each of these states was vastly different. In State A, I was able to request the record online for $5.50 and received the record immediately. In State B, I requested my record online for $26.85 and should have received my record immediately but didn’t. Once it was clear that my record wasn’t coming, I emailed the help desk and within minutes the record showed up in my inbox. Both of these experiences were relatively quick and easy. State C, on the other hand, receives an A+ in obfuscating a very simple request. Here’s why:
1. There was no form to request my driving record. I had to read through a long list of instructions and glean the information that I was required to submit. To complicate matters, I had to read below a page break to learn that I had to submit a payment via personal check for $2.70. Unfortunately, the DMV forgot to explain to whom I should make out the check, leaving me in a bit of a bind and leading me on another internet search.
This hunt-and-find method of record request signals the gross inefficiency of this DMV’s system. I’m sure that the DMV frequently receives incomplete record requests because of the burden it places on citizens to uncover all of the submission requirements. Incomplete records waste the citizen’s time because he or she has to go back and correct the record request, and they waste the DMV’s time because it has to re-process an incorrect request.
2. There was no online submission for my record request. I had to perform this function by mail. After reading all of the instructions, I learned that this could take up to 14 business days to process with an addition of two days on either side of processing for physical mail delivery. Therefore, it may be almost a month before I receive this record. In the days of the Pony Express, I may have been thrilled to receive a document in a month, but in today’s world, one business day can feel like a month, especially when the business world expects short turnarounds.
3. This record was addressed to the DMV – not to a DMV Records Department, a DMV Processing Department or a specialized PO Box. This signals to me that if my record request letter is not pre-sorted from all of the other mail, then the DMV has some process issues. .
While I appreciate that this record request was $2.70, it does not make up for the gross inconvenience. If online DMV records are not within the DMV’s power – either because of a need for legislative action or cost – (State C should, at minimum, perform some low-tech upgrades. For example, the DMV could create a downloadable PDF form that clearly explains all of the requirements and fees, which could then be sent to the correct handling facility via e-mail. Even this small step would reduce processing time because it eliminates snail mail submission and reduces the frequency of incorrect record requests, as the PDF form would have all of the requirements in one place and in one format.
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Written by Annalynn Evenstad, Associate General Counsel and Contracting Department at Panorama Consulting Solutions