Tom Sgouros is an engineer, policy analyst, and writer. Check out his new book, "Checking the Banks: The Nuts and Bolts of Banking for People Who Want to Fix It" from Light Publications.

3 responses to “Budgeting for Disaster VI: DMV Manages for Success”

  1. RightToWork

    “But sometimes the big story is the simpler one: we got better service with more people.”

    And yet, despite the insistence of die-hard statists like Sgouros that the only solution to poor service is throwing more public employees at the problem, Virginia managed to continually improve on its already excellent DMV service in 2011 while simultaneously cutting costs and hiring no additional employees.

    How did it accomplish this? Reduction of unnecessary reporting and mailings, improvement in data storage, automation of payment services, and moving 31 different DMV services online. All common sense ideas, so clearly far removed from Rhode Island’s reach.

    Virginia DMV Saved $4.7M in 2011 While Simultaneously Improving Service
    Wait Times Shorter; More Customers Using Internet

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  2. RightToWork

    Nobody said that the savings “materialized from thin air.” Common sense technological investments and self-service automations were implemented to keep up with the state of technology, as opposed to your 19th-century “progressive” solution of throwing more manpower at the problem. Hiring additional employees should always be the LAST option for resolving a public service problem because it is the by far the most time- and resource-intensive solution, and the human element will always be more error-prone.

    The Virginia DMV solutions may be on the table in Rhode Island, but that is as far as they will get. The modus operandi has for decades been talk and more talk with nothing ever really accomplished, and token solutions that always come in far above estimates. It’s illustrative of the fundamental difference in cultures between the two states. The unions and union-backed politicians in RI have no incentive to replace DMV workers and their snail-paced gravy train with a leaner system of machines, accountability, and internet self-services – so it simply won’t happen. The politicians have been elected on poor DMV services for decades, so why wouldn’t they prioritize other areas? Virginia is a low tax, right-to-work state that prides itself on a culture of efficiency and merit. The entire Rhode Island political culture is corrupt and backwards, so fixing the DMV (at great taxpayer expense, no doubt) would just be treating a symptom instead of treating the cause.

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