The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

October 22, 2012

W.Va. DMV needs more money to comply with Real ID

CHARLESTON — The Division of Motor Vehicles says it’s been able to absorb nearly $2 million in costs associated with the federal Real ID Act so far, but it’s going to need nearly $1.4 million to hire 45 people in the future.

In the Department of Transportation’s budget request for fiscal year 2014, the DMV says it’s covered the costs to date by obtaining federal grants, using money from the Motor Vehicle Fees Fund and delaying other expenditures.

While there’s enough money to cover the coming budget year, DMV Commissioner Joe Miller says he needs another revenue source or he will have to tap into the state road fund.

The DMV also plans to invest $3 million over the next five years to upgrade its 20-year-old computer system.

The DMV began implementing the federal Real ID Act earlier this year. The 2005 law is a response to the 9/11 terror attacks and imposes strict criteria for people seeking a government-issued ID.

All but one of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks had cards that shouldn’t have been issued.

Today, anyone obtaining or renewing a driver’s license must prove their identity with either a birth certificate or a U.S. Passport, copies of which are to be scanned and stored. Women who marry or divorce and change their names face a more complicated process that requires more documents.

The rules are a headache for many people, who now have to track down documents they didn’t historically need.

Miller says it’s also taxing on DMV staff. The extra documentation slows the process, creating longer wait times.

Antiquated computers only add to the hassle.

“While these systems were state-of-the-art 20 years ago, current technology is PC-based and Internet supported,” Miller said. “These stand-alone systems are unable to communicate with each other, requiring redundant data entry.”

He hopes to begin advertising for proposals to upgrade the system next year.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and budget staff are already reviewing requests, but most state agencies have been asked to cut spending by 7.5 percent next year.

Because DMV is mainly supported by fees and driver taxes, it’s exempt from that order.

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