DMV Provides New Customer Service Just In Time To Help California Taxpayers

DMV Media Relations
2415 First Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95818
Tel: (916) 657-6437
Fax: (916) 657-8282

February 23, 2006

Sacramento—"The California Department of Motor Vehicles is well on the road to implementation of the REAL-ID Act", said Bill Cather, the DMV Legislative Director. "Simply put, we are way head of many other states in the process because of our efforts over the past several years to address customer concerns about license security and privacy and our 'e-DMV' efforts to integrate the Internet in many every-day operations."

Cather also pointed out that DMV officials have been in constant contact with state and federal Homeland Security officials, federal regulators, and a number of other state motor vehicle officials to make sure California's voice is heard during the regulation-writing process. "We are absolutely paying attention," he said.

Cather testified this afternoon at a state Senate budget subcommittee hearing along with state Business, Housing and Transportation Agency Deputy Secretary for Legislation Curt Augustine about how DMV is working to enact the driver license component of the REAL-ID Act, which must be completed when the law goes into to effect on May 11, 2008. (BTH is the state agency that oversees DMV.) The act was signed into law almost a year ago, and among a number of other mandates, charges all states and territories with the creation of a high-tech, secure license that certifies that the holder has provided necessary and sufficient documentation to prove his/her identity. The license will be needed to board airliners and access other secure locations that require picture identification.

The law also requires states to create mechanisms by which identity documents can be electronically verified and accessed by other states and federal entities.

Cather explained that while REAL-ID presents some significant challenges for DMV, the department has already implemented a number of stringent security and personal privacy safeguards. Those safeguards include the collection and direct verification of Social Security numbers through the Social Security Administration since 2004, the implementation of a "legal presence" law since 1994 whereby federal immigration documents are verified with federal immigration authorities before any licensing procedures can take place and the introduction of its "Super-Secure" Driver License in 2001-still one of the most sophisticated and counterfeit-resistant license cards in the country.

"We are on top of this project, and we have it well in hand," said Cather. "We have already devoted thousands of hours of time to preparations up this point, and we have more than 70 employees dedicated to getting us ready. When the federal regulators give us more definite guidelines in the coming months, we will dedicate whatever staff is needed to do what is necessary to get it done. We are looking forward to working together with the California Legislature to address all of our challenges ahead. With their leadership, we anticipate a successful outcome."

Cather acknowledged that while all California drivers will need to be re-certified in an office starting in 2008, the process will be spread over a five year period. He said DMV already processes many millions of Internet-based transactions each year, which have greatly reduced foot traffic in field offices. Those Internet processes include on-line vehicle registration, driver license renewals and appointments, as well as several electronic registration and filing applications for automotive industry-related customers.

"We will need to continue to upgrade many of our so-called "legacy" IT systems to handle the extra workload presented by REAL-ID mandates, but that is an ongoing process that has been going on for years. The total costs for everything we need to do will be substantial-somewhere in the neighborhood of $200-400 million-but the department has already developed budget requests to cover many of those improvements. As part of our ever-expanding partnership with the federal government, we are also pursuing federal grants to cover many of the costs," Cather said.

"We have listened to our customers and we're doing everything we can to allow them to do their DMV business their way at their convenience. And that is precisely what we're going to do with the implementation of REAL-ID. We are committed to getting it done with as few interruptions and inconveniences as possible because we have made California citizens' personal security and privacy our number one priority, and that's what REAL-ID is all about," he said.