Testimony of Lucinda Babers, Director Department of Motor Vehicles Before the Committee on Transportation and the Environment
Mary Cheh, Chairperson
Friday, February 10, 2017
11:00 am -- Room 412
The Wilson Building,
Good Morning, Chairperson Cheh, Committee members, Councilmembers, and your staffs. My name is Lucinda Babers, and I am the Director of the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV).
Prior to sharing the major FY16 and year-to-date FY17 DC DMV accomplishments, on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, I would like to thank our customers, this Committee and the rest of the Council for your support. We often rely on all of you to provide the necessary feedback that guides our decisions for service improvements. I also must extend a special thanks to my DC DMV coworkers whose dedication and efforts make it possible for us to service the needs of the customers. As I always say, I am truly humbled to serve with them and thank them for all they do for the District and Team DMV.
Mayor Bowser’s administration remains committed to investing in pathways to the middle class by investing in education, infrastructure, public safety, and people. The Fair Shot Budget for fiscal year 2017 was the first budget developed wholly under Budget Autonomy. For the first time since Home Rule was passed in 1973, the District was able to spend our local dollars without having to wait on Congress to pass the federal budget. This brings us one step closer to operating like the 51st state.
DMV provides service to over 622,000 licensed drivers and identification card holders and almost 310,000 registered vehicles at four service centers. We provide adjudication services and collect ticket payments for more than 2.7 million tickets issued annually, including conducting over 289,000 in-person and mail hearings. We also conduct over 178,000 annual vehicle inspections. DMV interacts with DC residents and non-residents, with an average of 3,200 daily customer contacts—more than almost any other District government agency.
During FY16, the Mayor continued moving forward on the groundwork laid in FY15 for positioning the District for future growth and prosperity as all agencies worked towards common goals and pathways to the middle class. In year three, year-to-date FY17, we continued our efforts to streamline and improve service delivery. Following are highlights of our past accomplishments.
DMV rolled out an internally developed Online Dealer Interface System (ODIS) in February 2016 to address the issue of dealers not being able to title and register DC residents’ newly purchased vehicles. To date, 7 dealers are using the system with 7 approved for training. This new system allows us to decrease our back office workload and meet our key performance indicators.
In September 2016, we acquired the use of UbiDou equipment at each of our DMV locations to assist with communicating with the hearing impaired and those with difficulty speaking. The devices, which feature two way “laptops”, are used on almost a daily basis in the service centers.
With assistance from the Department of General Services, on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, we relocated our Penn Branch Service Center into a new facility located in Ward 7 at 4525 Benning Road, SE. This facility, which offers licensing, identification, registration and titling services and HIV screening, provides both employees and customers with an improved facility for conducting District government business. For the first time in over 20 years, we also renovated the customer and employee areas of the Inspection Station. We are excited to kick off additional renovations, with inspection lane enhancements, in the next several months.
DMV implemented a new road test appointment calendar system in April 2016. The new system allows DMV to reschedule appointments, due to inclement weather, with the press of a button with customers automatically receiving text messages and email notices. Additionally, third party road testers can also track their appointments in the calendar; thereby, allowing DMV to manage the process without manual input.
By April 2016, DMV reissued over 1700 six-digit license plates that were faded due to significant wear and tear. This fading greatly diminished law enforcement’s ability to properly identify tag numbers. We provided hands-on service on four Mondays that included physically replacing residents’ tags. The month of April also resulted in the elimination of a ticket appeals backlog of 22 months due to the hiring of two temporary employees to create a temporary appeals board. Our appeals turnaround is now less than 60 days.
To assist in combating human trafficking, which may lead to other criminal activity, as of July 2016, DMV joined the DC Human Trafficking Task Force, trained employees in identifying human trafficking victims, published rulemaking to require parental consent for obtaining identification cards and distributed human trafficking information to truckers and those with commercial driver licenses.
In August 2016, we eliminated the requirement for limited purpose appointments on Wednesday – Saturday. This elimination, coupled with dedicated bi-lingual support for the first 6 months, allowed us to stabilize operations and increase the issuance of limited purpose credentials. We currently have 7,296 active limited purpose driver licenses and 3,651 identification cards.
In terms of online enhancements, over the past year, we decreased the need for in-person visits and streamlined operations by adding several new online functions. We created an online transaction for residents to submit a Limited Occupational License request online. This online transaction, which doubled submissions, ensures requests are properly routed in a timely manner to a hearing examiner for review and action. We also created an online transaction for customers to request their certified driver record; thereby reducing in-person visits for this document, which is often needed for employment purposes. Additionally, customers regularly contact DC DMV for copies of parking tickets that were misplaced or not received. Therefore, we developed the ability for customers to print a copy of a parking ticket online.
In FY16, we rolled out two online transactions related to vehicle services. We created an online transaction for residents to calculate titling and registration fees prior to visiting DMV. For those residents using money orders and cash, this ensures they bring the correct amount. We also created an online, no-fee 5 day registration transaction for residents who need to take their vehicle through inspection prior to registration.
We closed out FY16 with the roll-out of wireless monitoring technology that allows us to inspect vehicles which are not actually queued in the lane. Thus far in FY17, the inspection station has seen another enhancement with vehicle recall information printed on the customer vehicle inspection report. This vehicle information serves as yet another reminder for the customer to take the vehicle in for necessary manufacturer repairs.
As always, prior to closing, I would like to remind the listening public of a few important DC DMV tips. To avoid insurance lapse fines and possible registration suspension, insurance must be maintained on all vehicles registered in the District. Therefore, prior to cancelling the insurance for a vehicle which you are no longer driving, please also cancel your vehicle registration by surrendering your license plates to DC DMV. This registration cancellation can be done online at dmv.dc.gov.
There is often confusion among customers related to the functions of the various agencies involved with parking. The District Department of Transportation regulates parking by managing policy, signage and meters; the Department of Public Works enforces parking by issuing tickets; and DC DMV adjudicates tickets by allowing you to contest a ticket you believe was issued in error. If you receive a ticket which you believe to have been issued in error, you must officially adjudicate the ticket, within the timeframe allowed, using the instructions on the back of the ticket or on our website to protect your legal right to adjudicate. You can submit your request to adjudicate tickets online at dmv.dc.gov. Additionally, if you receive a ticket which doubles (which means a penalty has been added), and you wish to contest just the penalty amount, you should not pay the original fine amount. Payment of any portion of the ticket is an admission of liability and prevents you from adjudicating any part of the ticket.
Finally, DC DMV rivals almost any motor vehicle jurisdiction in terms of online services with fifty-five transactions. We encourage you to take advantage of these online services to skip the in-person DMV trip and avoid the lines. All DC local libraries have secure Internet connections to assist those without computer or Internet access. Furthermore, most online services can also be done by mail; however, you should allow sufficient mailing time for us to receive your documentation prior to the indicated deadlines.
Although we have made improvements during the past year, we are aware more is always needed. Therefore, we will continue to move forward to identify and implement innovative operational processes, especially those aimed at reducing customers’ in-person visits and streamlining processes and procedures. Again, we appreciate the support we have received from the Council and look forward to continuing our efforts to improve the quality of service to the residents of the District of Columbia. Lastly, we would like to thank Mayor Bowser for her continued leadership and commitment to good government and accountability. As always, we strive to operate with complete transparency, and we will ensure the communication channels with your staff remain open and productive. We will now address any questions you may have. Thank You!