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KS: DMV aims to improve by keeping customers away

By   /   October 12, 2012  /   No Comments

Members of the 17-person DMV Modernization Task Force met Friday at the Kansas Department of Revenue to discuss an array of the best practices and procedures implemented by other states across the nation.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

TOPEKA — The governor’s new task force targeted at modernizing the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles is looking to cut costs and increase efficiencies wherever it can, and how they’ll do that is pretty simple: keep customers out of the DMV in the first place.

From strategically-located electronic kiosks to encouraging online transactions for registration and license renewal transactions, the 17-member task force heard an array of the best practices, standards and procedures used by DMVs in states across the nation. Presented by Sheila Prior, regional director for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the list of examples she presented ran the gamut from common sense solutions to options that would raise a few eyebrows.

Prior highlighted states like Nevada and Maryland, among others, which have worked to leverage technology to their advantage. Whether it’s through processing renewals online or at an electronic kiosk located in various locations throughout a community, Prior said less face-to-face time will not only produce cost-savings for the state, but it will also increase overall customer satisfaction.

“Obviously as the DMV, you want to keep people out of your offices as much as possible,” Prior said. “The more transactions you can process on a mail-in basis, or you can move to the web, or at a kiosk, your central issuance cost goes down.”

One of the more notable ideas Prior presented were methods used by DMVs in New York and Oregon, which have outsourced DMV call centers to prisons for nearly three decades now. And with prisoners earning barely more than a dollar per hour at most, it’s easy to see why such an option could be attractive. Prior said in the case of Oregon, calls handled by a DMV employee cost the department eight times as much as if it were handled by a prisoner.

“These are very high profile, very in-demand jobs in prisons. You get access to the outside world,” Prior said.

“It kind of slays me that we pay prisoners, but that’s just my opinion,” she added.

Prior noted that in the case of both states, inmates are only given such a position after an intensive screening process, and even then the information they have access to is heavily restricted.

The next meeting for the task force is set for October 23.

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on twitter at @kansaswatchdog.

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Travis Perry is an investigative reporter covering news and politics for Watchdog.org's Kansas bureau. Before joining the organization, Travis graduated cum laude from Washburn University and cut his teeth as news editor for the Osawatomie Graphic, where he received numerous awards from the Kansas Press Association.

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