Was the Ongoing DMV Headache Worth It?

January 11, 2016

By State Senator Tony Hwang

What do you think of when you hear the letters “DMV”?

Just the sound of those letters makes many people cringe, especially over the past five months.

My family recently registered a new driver. Our firsthand DMV “experience” provided its fair share of frustration.

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles upgraded its software in August, and the roll out has had multiple glitches. Those problems resulted in the tripling of wait times, months-long delays in scheduling drivers test appointments, and unfair fines to motorists. (Visit www.ct.gov/dmv/refund to find out how you can get reimbursed.)

It’s been a major headache, to say the least. As my friend and colleague Sen. Toni Boucher aptly puts it, “It seems that each week we are going further down the rabbit hole at DMV.”

The upgrades cost you, the Connecticut taxpayers, $25 million. As your state senator, I view every taxpayer dollar as precious. We have endured the two highest tax hikes in state history over the past five years. Each dollar that you pay in taxes should generate value.

So, was this $25 million, taxpayer-funded DMV upgrade money well spent?

We’ll soon find out. I was encouraged to see the co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee say that a hearing will be held at the State Capitol to examine the DMV software upgrades in a constructive way. The hearing will “to focus on finding out what went wrong, as opposed to a forum for finger-pointing.”

That hearing should help us get answers, and I urge you to email me your questions for DMV officials at [email protected] or call me at 800 842-1421.

I have written to the DMV commissioner to raise questions about 3M, the vendor for the DMV’s new software system. 3M software has experienced problems in other states, including Kansas, where officials decided in March 2014 to end their relationship with the company in the middle of their own DMV project because upgrades were delayed for years. Kansas’s disastrous software experience hurt taxpayers and should have raised red flags here in Connecticut. Why didn’t they?

Fixing the ongoing headaches at the Connecticut DMV must be a top priority for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2016. Getting taxpayers answers will be among my top priorities.

In a recent online news story comment, a taxpayer summed up why the DMV situation is so important, saying, “The DMV is the one governmental agency that almost everyone has to deal with at one time or another. Considering the taxes we pay in this state, it should be a primary obligation for our representatives to ensure that services are rendered efficiently and in a timely manner. When things go so horribly wrong, someone should be held responsible.”

Well said. $25,000,000 has been spent. You deserve to know if you got your money’s worth.

*Sen. Tony Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.