CARSON CITY — The state Department of Motor Vehicles is facing a perfect storm of new responsibilities and program changes that is generating a huge jump in customers and growing wait times at its offices, lawmakers were told Tuesday.
One proposal to address the growing demand is a new computer system that will cost an estimated $109 million over the life of the rollout of the project. The request for the upcoming two-year budget is just over $50 million.
Lawmakers serving on the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means joint subcommittee asked for assurances that the system will become operational without any glitches that plagued the last DMV rollout in 1999.
“We don’t want to buy into something that escapes us,” said Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka.
DMV Director Troy Dillard said a request for proposals will be issued soon, and when proposals come back the agency will be able to be more precise in the total costs. He said every effort is being made in the process to ensure that the rollout is smooth. It will be implemented in phases, unlike the problem-plagued Project Genesis computer system rollout in 1999, he said.
Dillard told the panel that the current computer system is no longer capable of serving the needs of the DMV. As part of the new rollout, the agency is asking for 22 new state positions that would allow employees to be involved in the implementation of the new technology to ensure the agency will be able to run the new system without issues, he said.
The project will be paid for in part with a new $1 fee on the approximately 5 million transactions performed for customers by the DMV annually, Dillard said.
The growth in DMV customers is especially acute in Southern Nevada. Customer counts at the four Las Vegas metropolitan offices increased from 1.43 million in 2013 to 1.73 million in 2014, a 28 percent increase. The number could reach 2 million this year.
The average wait time at the Las Vegas offices was 40 minutes in 2013. In 2014, the average wait time doubled and continues to increase so far in 2015.
At 9:50 a.m. Tuesday there were 337 people in line at the Sahara office, according to the agency’s website.
Some of the major reasons for the customer increase include new programs, from driver authorization cards to Real ID, but the economic recovery has also had an effect, Dillard said. The agency is seeing 7,500 driver’s licenses a month being turned in from other states each month, which is a return to levels seen before the recession, he said.
“All these pieces of the pie add up significantly,” Dillard said.
New technology shows that many customers come to an office more than once to complete their business, he said. So for the 2 million customers at the five main DMV offices statewide, the agency had to process about 3.1 million transactions, Dillard said.
Despite the successes of alternate technology including online vehicle registration and for other services, the agency has been unable to educate many customers on issues ranging from Real ID, the new driver’s license that will be needed to fly, to car registrations, he said.
Customers seeking a Real ID-compliant card often make more than one visit to a DMV office because they don’t have the right paperwork to obtain the card, Dillard said. The agency is trying to direct residents to the DMV website where the information is available, he said.
Existing licenses are valid for Real ID purposes until 2020, but many Nevadans are seeking to obtain the new card anyway, which is adding to the agency’s workload, he said.
Despite the fact that people can now register their new vehicles online, 90 percent of those who buy a car from a Nevada dealer come into an office to register their car, Dillard said.
The agency is asking for 75 new positions to help address the customer increase starting on July 1, he said.
Contact Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.