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KS: DMV task force leaves ordinary drivers in the dust

By   /   October 5, 2012  /   News  /   7 Comments

Gov. Sam Brownback, flanked by members of the newly-formed DMV Modernization Task Force, announces the goals of the group during a press conference at Olathe Ford Lincoln auto dealership on Friday.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OLATHE — From law enforcement to auto dealers, Gov. Sam Brownback’s new Department of Motor Vehicles  Modernization Task Force has representatives from every relevant field, except one — the folks who pay the bills.

Jeff Kocen, an Overland Park resident who has set up a website dedicated to reforming Revenue Department and computer systems management, said the lack of a consumer voice is a significant oversight in the formation of the new 17-member volunteer board, which Brownback announced during a news conference Friday afternoon at the Olathe Ford Lincoln auto dealership.

“I’m glad to see that they’re taking the experience over this last spring and summer very seriously, but I see this as a glaring hole,” Kocen said.

Members include Preston Ford of the Educational Credit Union; state treasurer Ron Estes; and Miami County Administrator Shane Krull, among others. The task force is led by Lee Harris, president and CEO of Cohen-Esrey Real Estate Services of Overland Park.

“This is going to work to improve customer service and satisfaction, period. You shouldn’t have to plan your day around going to the DMV,” Brownback said before a small gathering of reporters. “We want to look at best practices around the country for improving service, improving speed and efficiency in DMV offices.”

While the governor spoke in broad terms and lofty goals for the task force, few specifics were offered.

“There is no predetermined outcome other than developing thoughtful recommendations that will make it easier and faster for citizens and businesses in Kansas to get their vehicle titles, license plates and drivers licenses,” Brownback said.

Processing times at DMV locations ground to a screeching halt in April, when the agency implemented a new computer system to process tags and titles. At the height of the problem, wait times at Johnson county locations were as long as eight or nine hours. That has since decreased, and as of Friday the wait time to renew vehicle tags at the Shawnee Mission DMV was just less than two hours.

Nick Jordan, Kansas secretary of Revenue, said once customers make it to the head of the line, the statewide average for processing renewals is now only one to four minutes, while the more complicated process of managing titles takes 10 to 15 minutes.

“That’s getting closer and closer to the time frame that the old system used to do transactions,” Jordan said.

He added that the new system has now processed more than 2 million transactions, more than the old system had in a similar time.

But while ordinary folks would probably prefer the state put all its resources toward decreasing issues associated with the new computer system, the board is being directed to take a wider view on the matter. Brownback wants the task force to do more than simply make sure the existing system functions as it should; he wants them to help make it a model for the entire nation.

“We’re really trying to find the best practices to make this the best DMV service in the country,” said Jordan.

Brownback is optimistic that greater efficiencies can be implemented without increased funding.

But as far as Kocen is concerned, the governor’s announcement is all flash and no substance.

“There’s very little in it for the people that pay the bills,” he said.

Update: Jeannine Koranda, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue, takes issue with Kocen’s claim that ordinary driver’s aren’t represented on the task force. She points to Marvin Spees, owner of Capitol City Oil; former state legislator Gary HayzlettHarvey Sorensen of Foulston Siefkin, LLP; and Harris as examples of average Kansans. And by average, Koranda means “They are private citizens whose interactions with the vehicle system is only through renewing their vehicle tags or driver’s license. From that stand point, yes they are average Kansans.”

Contact Travis Perry at [email protected], or follow him on twitter at @kansaswatchdog.


Travis formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • charlotte O’Hara

    Last night I saw a temporary tag sporting the new normal in Kansas, 60 days instead of the old 30 day tag. I guess that sums up efficiency in the State of Kansas.

    I find it interesting that Secretary of Commerce, Nick Jordan, gets a task force for long lines at the DMV while Secretary of Labor, Karin Brownlee, gets the boot for her excellent track record of increased efficiency and lower costs in the Department of Labor.

    In the Brownback Administration it seems if you’re inept, you stay and if you’re good at your job, you’re fired. First, Secretary of SRS, Rob Siedlecki and now Secretary of Labor, Karin Brownlee.

    Charlotte O’Hara
    Kansas Rep. 27th Dist.

  • jkocen

    I attended the Governor’s announcement of the formation of a task force to
    examine private and public sectors models that cound make the state’s DMV the
    best in the nation. The task force will be lead by Lee Harris, CEO of Cohen
    Esrey Rel Estate Services. These are his words not mine. The task force
    includes auto dealers, county treasures, bankers, law enforcement and the energy
    sector. Why the last one I do not know. What is missing in this so called
    group of stakeholders is the consumer/customer of the DMV. They are the real
    stakerholders as they utilizes the services of the DMV and most are the
    taxpayers funding the DMV. Recommendations are due in Novemeber. I wish them
    the best.

    Read more: http://fixksdmv.webnode.com/news/governor-brownback-announces-dmv-modernization-task-force/

  • jkocen

    Here are a few suggestions to fix the DMV. Look at privatization of the offices. In Johnson County the taxpayers subsidize the cost of running these offices Just do not allow it to be by political appointment. Add Saturday and evening hours. Fix the insurance database so more online registration can be completed successfully. It needs to be updated more frequently. Require insurance companies offering policies in KS to report. Today it is voluntary. Permanently eliminate online fees. Eliminate or change the process to verify the VIN of vehicles from out state being titled in KS for the first time. In Johnson County you now have to go to a different location outside of the county to have it verified. This is confusing. Look at a two year registration period. Most of these suggestions are targeted at the county DMV offices handling titles and registrations. The offices issuing driver licenses are run by the state and never did convert to the new systems. They need to add hours (currently closed on Mondays) and more staff to reduce wait times. Good thing we do not have to renew our licenses all that often. Finally, do we really need both state and county run offices to handle DMV functions? I have heard from cutomers that they went to wrong offices as they do not understand the system KS has in place. Oh, one last suugestion. New leadership might be what is really needed to implement real and lasting change for the better. If done right, this model could be used in other public facing government run operations.

  • jkocen

    I take issue with the comments from Jeannie Koranda as these are not your ordinary private citizens that walk in on Monday to find the State run license office closed or who wait in line for hours at a county DMV office to register or title their vehicles. I bet they will not go without pay if they must take time away from work for these tasks nor do they have to bring their kids with them as they cannot afford a baby sitter.

  • jkocen

    Charlotte- I almost became ill when I heard the praise reaped on Secretary Jordan by the Governor during this press conference for the great job he is doing. If such a fiasco happened in the private sector on his watch and that of Donna Shelite, both would be looking for jobs. How many $ millions has it cost us in lost productivity in the DMV offices and lost wage and time by the customers of the DMV services? We will never know.

  • jkocen

    So far from what I hear the task force is going to force rank ideas to come up with a a top ten to be delivered in in Nov. Only time will tell.

  • jkocen

    I thought the task force was to report to the Governor in early November. Has anything been published? I expect very little to come from this effort.