SACRAMENTO (AP) – California’s DMV is trying to improve customer service by accepting credit cards, upgrading its website and offering clearer instructions on how to obtain a new federally mandated ID, but Gov. Gavin Newsom cautioned Tuesday the agency’s long wait times and other troubles aren’t over.

“This is going to take a few years. Next year will be tough,” Newsom said, referencing an expected surge in people using the Department of Motor Vehicles next year to acquire new IDs that will be required for air travel.

Newsom spoke as he released a report detailing efforts the DMV is making to improve services after wait times averaged two hours last summer, prompting outrage from lawmakers and customers. The state hired the high-powered firm McKinsey & Company to recommend improvements, with the funding coming out of roughly $240 million in new money the DMV got in this year’s state budget.

Newsom also announced he’s appointed Steve Gordon as the agency’s director. Gordon is a longtime employee of the private sector, working for Cisco Systems and most recently for zTransforms, a consulting company focused on business-wide process improvement. He is not registered in a political party and will make $186,000. The state Senate must approve his appointment.

The DMV has been plagued by slow-downs related to the state’s “motor voter” registration program and an uptick in people applying for REAL IDs, the new federal IDs that will be required for airplane travel starting in October 2020. More than 28 million Californians may seek a REAL ID.

Beyond hiring McKinsey, the state has brought in a public relations firm to create a statewide awareness campaign about the new IDs and a consulting firm to think about what DMV offices should look like. The report did not say how much each is being paid.

Other changes include the planned acceptance of credit cards, which will start at a Davis office in September before expanding to Fresno, Victorville and Roseville. The state hopes to eventually accept credit cards statewide. The DMV has also started launching REAL ID “pop ups” at businesses and plans to open 100 kiosks in August, where people can do routine transactions such as renewing vehicle registration without going to a customer service window.

The goal, Newsom said, is to improve through small changes. “We’re not going big at first – we want to go small and build on successes,” he said.

The department plans to hire between 1,800 and 1,900 new workers, most of them temporary, through next year. Newsom’s announcement comes a day before the DMV plans to close offices statewide for half a day for a day of training for its more than 5,000 employees.

Republican lawmakers were divided on the Democratic governor’s actions. Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno faulted Newsom for “making excuses” for the DMV rather than re-imagining it and criticized him for saying wait times could be long again next summer. But GOP Sen. Pat Bates from Laguna Niguel said Newsom was taking “steps in the right direction to help fix the DMV.”

The report did not address problems with the state’s “motor voter” registration programming, and Newsom said an audit on the program will be coming out soon.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.

  1. Carmen says:

    If they really want to help the State DMV to have fewer customers in the office this was not the way. Maybe you should have asked the DMV employees who work the front line. Now that there are more costs for paying online with a debit or credit card you will see the lines get longer. Also hiring Retirees was a good move but do you realize some managers discriminated against retirees when they put their applications in prior to others, because instead of thinking of the knowledge and how most of the retirees where only going to help at the start here, they thought of how they did not like the person and took it personally. This is sad to think they are not thinking professionally and how to get people processed. This is a business not a personal arena. Lets get people in and out in an orderly, professional processes and lets allow our employees to work in a good environment. Now you will see longer lines and I hope you hire the Retirees Annuitants that want to help out, yes I am one who was discriminated against and I put my application in the moment I was told by YOUR DMV Director (which I emailed directly and put in correct application). Yet. people after I told them to apply got were picked up and I was not, because the Manager where I worked never liked me and told me so the day I transferred into her office. She said I never wanted you working in my office because I do not like you. I loved working at the DMV and it was sad some Managers decided who they like and don’t like. This is a business owned by the State of California, it is not their personal office yet act like it is a privately owned company and that office is theirs and those employees are their own personal employees and decide no matter how hard a person works they pick and chose their favorites. I have no ill will towards anyone and hope things change for others who are working. Because we all want happy employees who enjoy coming to work and feel everyone is treated equal. This maybe why my manager did not like me. It’s like the person who allows a bully on the playground to bully someone and no one says anything. but that one person who does that bully now turns on them and makes sure they will never promote, they have their managers under them mistreat them, etc. And I was the one who told them they could not bully anyone so I am the bad guy. A person in power should be a mentor, a person one can turn to to better themselves, a confidant, not someone who bullies them and just for the record that is why most DMV front end employees that customers complain about are so unhappy. Most employees are being bullied by Managers. So Governor Gavin now that there will be more pressure put on the front end employees maybe you can start a training for professional Managers, who do not micromanage, who act professional, who care (not just say) about their employees and treat all of them with respect. I have been a manager in the past for a will known brokerage firm, and do you know that when you work with your employees not control them like they are underneath you, yes they are not equal, but treat them like they matter. those employees are loyal and work harder for you. When I worked for a great manager at the DMV who treated us like that we all wanted to help her, she was great and respected. then we got someone who was controlling and when I was injured on the job she didn’t even call 911 or have a manger take me to get medical help. then badgered me when I got back to work after my surgery. Yes this has nothing to do with the credit card/debit card issue. What this has to do with is productivity, loyalty, good employees, and the bottom line getting things done. I hope you reach out and correct this so the DMV is a great part of the States process. You should think about adding more retirees because it costs less for the State budget, because there is less training which cost the state thousands of dollars. Yes at the end you will need more employees to be trained, but not for certain areas. Get the ones that process that job and give the start here and the person who gets the customer ready for the processor the job. You do not pay benefits to retirees because they are already covered. they are not paid overtime and can work flexible hours. Please have an open mind and really make changes to the DMV, starting at the top going down. This department is run with the money of the people of the State of California. Just like we voted for you to make changes but please keep in mind our thoughts and concerns, we want a Governor who remembers all of its voters and why we wanted you in office. Thank you for your time and I hope DMV becomes one of the best Departments in our State. I hope you consider some of what I have said and react in a positive way. You want DMV to be great then please think about what I said.

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