Decreases in property and sales tax revenues have created budgetary shortfalls for most state governments. As a result of these budget cuts, many Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices have been forced to close branch locations, reduce workforce through layoffs, implement hiring freezes, shorten hours or days of operation, eliminate overtime, and institute work furloughs for remaining employees. In many cases, these actions have resulted in understaffed DMV offices. The states most affected by these cutbacks are California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington.
“ARI has experienced delays with many state DMVs as the result of shorter hours and reduced staff,” said Tim Delaney, department head, licensing services for ARI.
A key culprit for the delay in registration renewals has been due to personnel cutbacks, which, in some instances, have increased turnaround times for DMV services.
“Due to a reduction in personnel, turnaround times are slower because there is the same amount of work for a smaller number of clerks. Some states, such as Connecticut, will no longer allow walk-in renewals. If they can’t be done online, they must be mailed in with a renewal application. If we don’t have one, we have to request one,” said David Andersen, director, North America title and licensing for PHH Arval.
However, it is the reduced hours, especially when followed by a holiday, that impacts turnaround times at most DMVs.
“We do feel an impact on turnaround times when DMVs are closed for extended periods of time, furlough days, and holiday closings. We have noticed that even if the DMV is only closed one day, the resulting delay is usually several days. If urgent issues come up on a day when the DMV has closed, we have to wait until the following business day to handle,” said Andersen. “We have had to adjust our process accordingly to get things to the DMV sooner than in the past. We do whatever we can to ensure it only affects us, rather than the client.”
One DMV service that seems to have been impacted the most is the area of document services. “In our interactions, we’ve seen initial licensing and replacement document services being impacted more than renewals,” said Delaney.
Titling services have also been affected by the cutbacks in DMV personnel and hours of operation. “There have been a couple of instances in states such as California, Arkansas, and Texas, where our tag agents have said the state is behind and transactions, like title transfers and corrections, are taking a little extra time. Duplicate titles don’t seem to be affected in the same way. But corrections and transfers have always taken a little longer to process anyway, so for the most part, I haven’t noticed a real slowdown with getting titles in since DMVs have cut hours,” said Robert Kalter, title auditing team lead for Donlen. “If we have a good vendor in a particular state, we are still getting the titles quickly because they have an avenue to get titles that isn’t affected by the reduced hours. Aside from the occasional single title here and there, I haven’t had an overall problem getting titles issued quickly, once requirements are provided.”
Another service that’s been impacted is getting corrected titles. “Getting replacement and/or corrected titles from a few states has been delayed. For example, in dealing with the state of Alabama, you typically have to leave a voicemail message to obtain status and wait for a return call, which delays the whole process,” said Eric Crooks, director of operations, license and title for LeasePlan.
Sometimes it is simply a timing issue that can result in delayed registration renewals. “There have been some delays on renewals mainly in the shorter months or months that have more national holidays, which allows less time for the standard monthly processing,” said Crooks.
All fleet management companies have been proactive in working with vendors to minimize delays with DMV services.
“To help minimize the delays, LeasePlan has been proactive in working with various vendors and states to determine the prerequisites required of us to complete our monthly renewals or other items when we need a quick turnaround,” said Crooks.
Forecast for Next Year
What is the forecast for the 2012 calendar-year? Will turnaround delays in DMV services continue to persist?
“Based on our experience, we believe the issues will fluctuate depending on consumer complaints and the economy. We have seen Friday furloughs from once a week to every other and discontinued through 2011. As long as the economy drives fiscal decisions, we will continue to see these issues until stability sets in,” said Delaney of ARI.
Others, likewise, see this as an ongoing issue for years to come. “I believe this is going to be an ongoing issue and, depending on the fiscal health of many states, we might see more reduced processing time and then have to readjust our timing to meet these changes,” said Crooks of LeasePlan USA.
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