BMG just can’t help attacking Baker, or there’s precedent of chain stores and RMV transactions

Proving that they’ll do anything to save public employee union jobs the folks over at Blue Mass Group are attacking Charlie Baker for thinking outside the box.  

To review in an article in today’s Boston Globe Charlie Baker amongst other proposals suggested, “ask chains like CVS, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens to take over some of the transactions handled by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.”  Of course with the snark usually reserved for such commonsense proposals johnk said:

What now?  

Dude, have you ever seen long lines at McDonald’s?  You can bring the kids to the RMV and they can get a free toy.  Just saying.

As it turns out that was probably the highlight of Baker’s interview.  He went on to talk about consolidating Health and Human Services agencies and capping pensions at $90,000 a year.

Before getting to the second and third points of johnk’s gleefully front paged post let’s look at the substance of the first.  Outsourcing routine RMV functions is not a new idea. In fact in Arkansas currently does so.  In fact the program was nominated for an award by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers for the 2004 Innovative Use of Technology Award (executive summary of nomination after the jump).

If you don’t have a computer with Internet access or a telephone, your options were once limited when it comes to renewing your vehicle tags in Arkansas. Even if you have an Internet connected computer and/or a telephone, without a credit card, you are still stuck with either going to a state office to get your new tags or handling the transaction via regular mail. Neither option is very appealing to most citizens, so now there’s another choice that allows anyone to take full advantage of eGovernment speed and convenience.

The State of Arkansas partnered with the Wal-Mart Corporation and the 3M Corporation to implement a program for performing annual vehicle registration renewals at selected Wal-Mart stores around the State. The Wal-Mart kiosk renewal process is designed to appeal to a large segment of the motoring public who do not use the mail-in, phone or Internet renewal processes offered by the state. These customers want product-in-hand when they renew, and/or do not want to enter their credit card information into a computer, as is required for the phone and Internet renewal processes. The only other alternative for these customers has been to take time off from work to renew at a State Tag Office during normal business hours. The Wal-Mart tag renewal process gives these customers the additional option to renew at a time and location convenient to them, to pay by cash, check, or debit/credit card, and to receive immediate delivery of their new registration certificate and license plate validation sticker.

To renew a car tag at one of the kiosks, the customer enters the required information from their tag renewal notice. The system retrieves the customer’s vehicle record and displays it for the customer’s verification. After verification the customer confirms his/her intent to renew. Upon confirmation an invoice is printed for the customer. The customer may then complete any other shopping they wish. Upon checkout at any store register, the Wal-Mart associate scans the tag renewal invoice as one of the products being purchased by the customer, and then gives the invoice back to the customer. The customer pays for his/her purchases, including the tag renewal, then stops back by the kiosk station and scans the invoice bar code. The system verifies that the invoice has been paid, and then prints the new vehicle registration certificate with the annual renewal sticker attached. Should the customer scan the invoice at the kiosk before paying for the renewal, the system will advise the customer that the renewal must be paid for before the registration certificate and validation sticker can be printed.

Vehicle registration renewals are most efficiently handled through an automated process. The State of Arkansas saves tax dollars every time someone renews their vehicle tags through one of its automated processes instead of the old-fashioned way in-person at a state revenue office.  

The program seems like a win-win to all except the DMV Union who lost membership.

To the second point of John K’s post.  Charlie has talked extensively about streamlining Human Service offerings.  There are often multiple case managers for one client of the Department of Health and Human Services which can make it very difficult for the clients.  Of course the SEIU local 509 when not campaigning for politicians with State dollars would be very much against any streamlining. Because streamlining means possible loss of union members.

Finally, the capping of penions at $90,000 is a very good idea and should be done immediately.  

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno