By Daniel A. Grabauskas, Registrar
As I complete my first year at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), I respectfully submit this third progress report on changes and improvements that we have made. Each report outlines different initiatives that have greatly impacted the way we, as a government agency, do business, and how the public has benefitted from these changes. We continue to strive for excellence in all that we do.
This report will cover the improvements made during the last six months, as well as provide detailed information about how we plan to utilize the additional funding you approved earlier this year for the RMV. The staff at the RMV have all worked incredibly hard. Many have been inspired by the positive changes we have made and the results are noticeable in the branches.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the Legislature for supporting an increase in the RMV's Fiscal Year 2001 budget of $1.2 million and for ultimately passing a Supplemental Budget that included $13.2 million in funding for major technological and operational improvements at the RMV. The Registry "Fix-It" bill, filed by Governor Cellucci and Lieutenant Governor Swift, contained funding for new computer and phone systems, additional personnel, Q-Matic Line Management systems in branches statewide, and money to allow credit card acceptance for all transactions. The budget increase has allowed us to hire an additional 49 full-time employees for the branches; they are already at work.
I believe we are well on our way to becoming one of the top motor vehicle departments in the country. With continued hard work and perserverence, the people of Massachusetts will have a Registry that makes customer service a top priority and branches that operate with the professionalism of a first-class, private-sector retail operation.
IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Having a website address that is easy to remember makes it easier for people to find your business or organization. Add to that a saved trip to the RMV and we figured we had a winner on our hands. In a continuing effort to make doing business with the RMV a customer-friendly and convenient experience, we launched our new website massrmv. com. Customers can now renew their registration, order a duplicate license, Mass ID or registration, order special plates, pay citations, and change their address. The RMV's site is now the most visited site in state government.
From January through September 2000, we received more than 885,000 hits on our website --up from 667,000 for all of 1999. The most utilized transactions are registration renewal, citation payments, duplicate licenses and changes of address.
With increasing use of the Internet, we thought that we had to keep up with the times by corresponding with our customers online. In May, the RMV created an E-Unit to address the increasing demand in customer feedback and change-of-address requests. The unit is staffed by one supervisor and two full-time employees and additional staffing will be needed to keep pace with the growing demand. Their objective is to respond to any requests for information or process requests within a 24-to-72 hour time period.
Since May, the E-Unit has processed 40,500 changes of address and responded to 20,647 e-mails from RMV customers.
E-Government Task Force
I have been selected to serve on the Steering Committee of the Governor's E-Government Task Force and am chairing the Working Group charged with examining issues related to the organizational support and governance that will apply to this new government portal. The E-Government Task Force was convened by the Governor and Lt. Governor to tap into the best practices nationally in both the public and private sectors to generate a web-based solution that truly makes government more accessible and of greater service to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The E-Government initiative is an exciting opportunity to develop an integrated approach for transforming the electronic delivery of government services. The Task Force will conduct a comprehensive diagnosis of the current achievements and opportunities for improvement and then establish the strategic plan for integrating the policy, operational and technical solutions. The RMV hopes to figure prominently in the priorities developed by the Task Force and to build upon our recent successes in improved electronic service delivery.
Director of Customer Service
Upon arriving at the RMV last September, I received a letter from a disgruntled customer who had experienced excessive waits and unpleasant employees at one of our branches. The detailed letter was at first a venting mechanism for her frustration but then went into a well-organized outline of suggestions on how to improve our operation. The author of the letter hit upon points that we too had observed after only a month on the job. So we hired her. A former manager for Toys R Us joined the RMV team in May of 2000. It is the first time in the history of the RMV, that there has been a professional customer service trainer.
All of the employees hired by the RMV have jobs that require extensive technical knowledge and most have to deal with the public everyday, either in person, by phone or over the Internet. We believe that our employees are the "face of government" and, as such must project a customer-friendly image and professional demeanor.
New Outreach Coordinator
The RMV conducts Outreach Programs for two of our most crucial constituency groups: teenage and elderly drivers. We recently hired a part-time person to improve the Outreach Programs and coordinate their presentations at high schools and senior organizations across the state. The Outreach presentations are free of charge and are the only programs of their kind nationwide.
The High School Outreach is a 50-minute presentation to sophomores who are either newly licensed or candidates for a driver's license. The presentation focuses on the Junior Operator Law, safe driving practices and road respect. A trooper from the Massachusetts State Police offers a 30-minute question and answer period and includes experiences about preventable highway tragedies involving young drivers.
The Elder Outreach presentation is offered to senior citizen organizations across Massachusetts. Topics include: determining if you are a safe driver; preserving independence after voluntary turning-in of a license; acquiring handicap placards and improving driving skills as one ages. A member of the RMV's Medical Affairs Bureau offers a 30 minute question and answer period following the presentation.
In July, the Elder Outreach program won the Public Affairs and Consumer Education award from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators at a conference in New Brunswick, Canada.
Driver Education Curriculum
This fall, the RMV will unveil a new curriculum and regulations governing private driving schools. The new curriculum creates a uniform system of driver education across the Commonwealth for young persons subject to the provisions of the Junior Operator License Law. It incorporates an up-to-date, graphics-rich textbook, the Massachusetts Driver's Manual, selected videos and a guest speakers program. The behind-the-wheel portion of the curriculum will be expanded from six to eight hours, with in-car observation being reduced from six hours to four. The classroom portion will remain at 30 hours. Students will be required to successfully complete both the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of the curriculum before being eligible to take an RMV road test. The curriculum includes several dynamic, targeted videos provided by the Governor's Highway Safety Bureau that relate directly to driver education for teenagers. Some of the videos were produced by the Massachusetts Cable Educational Television Network (MCET) and focus on typical problems faced by young drivers. Four of the thirty classroom hours, (approximately 13%) will be dedicated to teaching about the dangers of using alcohol and drugs while driving.
The RMV had heard concerns from the disabled community and legislators regarding sensitive information being prominently displayed on the placards. In June, the RMV announced plans to protect the privacy of more than 95,000 people using the placards by designing a plastic sleeve to cover their photograph and all personal identifying information.
The new sleeve will conceal all personal information displayed when the placard is hung from the rearview mirror of a vehicle. The sleeve is weather resistant and easily removable so that law enforcement authorities can verify a placard's validity in an effort to eliminate placard misuse.
The response to the new sleeves has been overwhelming. We have received more than 50 letters of appreciation from placard holders.
Online Social Security Verification
In early May, we implemented an online Social Security Verification that allows the RMV to immediately verify the validity of an applicant's information online with the U. S. Social Security Administration (SSA).
The newly enhanced access will allow the RMV to quickly verify a customer's name, date of birth, and social security number with the SSA before issuing a Massachusetts license or ID. The new system is advantageous to the RMV's concerted efforts with law enforcement to identify individuals accurately and significantly reduce fraud.
In September, a clerk from the Quincy branch noticed an usual number of license applicants whose social security numbers did not match the online verification system. A State Police trooper assigned to the RMV investigated and found that the forms from the Social Security Administration had been forged. The new online system alerted our clerk to a problem and as a result, rejected the license application. The matter is currently under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police and the Social Security Administration.
Crackdown on Underage Drinking
The RMV joined forces with the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) to publicize a joint enforcement initiative to crackdown on underage drinking. The program works to suspend the driver's license of any person under the legal drinking age of 21 years old who is caught with a fake ID.
The RMV receives hundreds of fake IDs each month mailed to us by various Police Departments, liquor establishments and nightclubs. We hold hearings with the interested parties and those found to have used the fake ID lose their license to drive for six months.
Stickier Inspection Stickers
When the New Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test was implemented last October, the program included a re-designed inspection sticker. According to members of the law enforcement community, the sticker was difficult to read and the adhesive was substandard, causing the stickers to fall off easily.
Responding to the needs of drivers and law enforcement officials, the RMV redesigned the inspection stickers. The new sticker is easier to read and has an improved design to ensure that it remains bonded to a vehicle's windshield. For those drivers who experience difficulty with their sticker, the RMV has made clear adhesive patches available to ensure that they stay in place.
Reinstatement of Registration Fees
The passage of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 Section 33 eliminated "Lifetime Registrations" and reinstated vehicle registration fees. This required the RMV to rebuild systems and make other technological and logistical changes to accommodate the reinstatement.
On September 1, 2000, the RMV began collecting registration renewal fees. The RMV estimates that the revenue generated by the 1.8 million vehicle registration renewals annually will be $54.9 million.
Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR)
The RMV has set an aggressive goal of adding 100 new insurance agents to the EVR program per month to provide our customers with the best possible options for conducting their RMV business without having to visit a branch.
Since January, the EVR agents have processed an average of 30,000 registrations per month or 30% of such business regularly done in branches. We plan to expand the types of transactions handled by EVR early this fall.
A New Look for Licenses and ID Cards
The Registry of Motor Vehicles and Polaroid Corporation are creating an exciting new look for driver licenses and identification cards for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The new documents feature the latest in identification and materials technology to provide more secure and durable licenses and identification cards. Polaroid is the world's leader in providing secure identification documents to governments around the world. The new license will go into production in late October.
An important change to the new licenses and IDs is a feature that allows under-21 documents to be quickly identified. New under-21 licenses and under-21 IDs will be produced in a vertical layout. This allows identification at a glance for under-21 individuals and prevents alteration attempts. In addition to the vertical layout, new licenses and IDs will feature printing of the bearer's date of birth in several locations, including over the photograph and on the back of the document, again making attempts to alter the document more apparent. All under-21 licenses and all IDs will feature red text making differences from standard driver licenses easily apparent.
Polaroid has been extremely successful in developing secure document construction techniques that provide protection against alteration of descriptive information, alteration of the birth date, and/ or photo switching. The key to the security of the document is Polaroid's Security Laminate technology which provides a layered approach to security and authentication. Because the laminate is bonded securely to the core material, attempts to remove the laminate for purposes of tampering with the printed data or portrait will result in noticeable destruction of the printing and photographic quality portrait. Attempts to alter the face of the document will also disturb the optically variable device (PolaSecure), providing an additional layer of tamper evidence.
Summary of Security Features:
Under-21 Vertical Layout All licenses and IDs issued to individuals under 21 years of age will be oriented in a vertical direction, making detection easy at a glance and preventing alteration attempts.
Multiple Date-of-Birth Placement The bearer's date of birth is placed at various locations on the front and back of each document making alteration attempts easily detectable.
Security Laminate A layered Security Laminate is bonded on the front and back of the core material of each document after printing of data and portrait images to prevent intrusion and wear. Attempts to tamper with the Security Laminate alter the document's appearance and are easily detectable.
PolaSecure -This Optically Variable Security Feature embeds the Massachusetts State Seal within the Security Laminate. This feature is visible at various angles and allows for easy detection of alteration attempts and prevents counterfeiting through photocopy reproduction techniques.
UV Printing Ultraviolet sensitive inks are embedded within the Security Laminate, allowing for authentication under an ultraviolet light source.
Ghost Image All licenses and IDs will feature a "ghost image" (a faint version of the bearer's image) with the date of birth placed over the ghost image making alteration of data or images easily detectable.
2-D Barcode Each license is protected against counterfeiting and fraud by means of a high-density two-dimensional (2-D) barcode containing the bearer's demographic information. The barcode is layered under the Security Laminate to prevent alteration or wear.
1-D Barcode Each license is also protected against counterfeiting and fraud by means of a high-density one-dimensional (1-D) barcode containing an auditable system control number used to track each card.
Continuing to Improve Customer Service For consolidation purposes we have moved the Marlborough commercial branch's reporting function to the Framingham branch. This will allow us to utilize staff from either branch to cover each other as the need arises. One full-time employee from Marlborough has been reassigned to Framingham's customer service counter.
We recently added two licensing stations to the Lowell branch. These new stations will allow a customer who is already imaged to have a license renewed without waiting in line for a new picture.
Expanding Service Delivery
Roslindale, which was previously a satellite office of Washington Street in Boston, will now operate as an independent branch. A supervisor will be assigned to this branch. This will eliminate the back filling and rotation of clerks from Boston, and defer some customer traffic from Boston and Watertown.
Washington Street Consolidation
The Washington Street Branch operation and the Driver Control Unit (suspensions) had been located in the same building, but were operating as separate entities. In July, these two divisions were merged together to form one central operation, focusing primarily on customer service. An aggressive training schedule has been implemented to train 30+ staff in the basic functions of licensing and registrations. This will allow Boston to have a full complement of employees to staff all twenty direct customer service positions at all times. The management structure has also been re-organized to accommodate the consolidation. This merger will help with the future decentralization of suspension services throughout all of the branch locations in the Commonwealth.
Consolidation of Registry Agent Cooperative Effort (RACE Units)
Our RACE Units handle bulk work from Insurance companies and Automobile dealerships. The staff from the Reading, Worcester, Taunton and Springfield RACE Units have been consolidated into the customer service areas. This allows us to use a greater number of staff to rotate to the front-line customer service counters.
The Springfield branch has gone through a complete management overhaul. A new management team has been charged with re-tooling our entire Springfield operation. The new manager has extensive customer service experience, having previously worked in the banking industry. We are already seeing marked improvements in the overall operation and customer satisfaction in Springfield.
Q-Matic Ticketing Systems
This state-of-the-art customer queuing system, currently operational in six locations, will now be installed in all of our branches. During the next several months, Q-Matic will be installed in Leominster, Brockton, Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, Beverly, Reading, Danvers, Cambridge, Roslindale, Framingham, Milford, Southbridge, Northampton, Pittsfield, North Adams, Chicopee, Hadley, James St. (Worcester), North Attleboro, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, Plymouth, Orleans, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. Senior and regional managers will be notified of any delays in customer service. They will have access to assist branch staff in deploying appropriate levels of personnel wherever and whenever necessary.
Summer Intern Program
Branch Operations hired thirty-one summer college interns. Several were returning for their second year. These students were trained along with our existing staff and they provided our operation with a welcomed energy. This program also runs during the winter holiday break.
Branch Operations has completed a hiring and staffing process for 49 new Registry employees approved in this year's budget. Training has concluded and the staff are already on the counters. Twenty-three existing temporary staff, as well as five current and former interns, have made this transition successfully. We are now back-filling those positions with new hires.
Here is a breakdown of key regions where staff has been added (per branch):
5 New Employees: Watertown, Framingham, Worcester, Quincy and Lowell
4 New Employees: Lawrence, Springfield, Brockton, Southbridge and Leominster
1 New Employee: New Bedford, Fall River, Beverly, Plymouth
We continue to monitor each branch's staffing needs and will hire personnel as necessary.
Improving the Phone System
We are working with Lucent Technologies (AVAYA) to design and install the new RMV phone system. Phase I of this project will provide all new telephone equipment for RMV personnel. Over 700 phones will be installed over the next few months, along with a new "automatic call distribution" (ACD) system. The ACD, the brain of the new phone system, will provide valuable new features which will distribute calls to telephone agents more efficiently and effectively. Included in Phase I are some exciting new features not available on the old telephone system.
One of the new features is called Informational Messaging. This feature allows a customer to select pre-recorded information, by subject. RMV departments will provide answers to "frequently ask questions" using this phone system feature. Such topics as branch locations, how to get a driver's license, when do you need a title, and many more will be available for customers twenty-four hours a day. When the phone center is open (9am to 7pm, Monday through Friday), the customer can search through and listen to Informational Messaging without losing their place in the callers queue.
Phase II of the phone system upgrade will bring many more features. Two of the improvements will be the ability to renew a registration over the phone and the ability to transfer information about a caller to another phone center representative if special service is required. For registration renewal, the customer will enter his or her registration and credit card information via the phone keypad. Just like an Internet transaction, the phone system will process the registration renewal and provide a confirmation number to the customer. With caller information transfer, the customer does not need to "start from the beginning" when he or she is transferred from one telephone agent to another. When the call is transferred, all information about the call up to that point will be sent to the next representative. This saves both the RMV and the customer valuable time.
Other phone system features will be outlined in future updates.
The Registry is making significant progress toward upgrading the RMV mainframe and the operation of the computer system. By increasing the speed of the computer and the capacity of the data storage system, we are able to make the system run faster and more efficiently. This means the computers will run more reliably and greatly reduce the amount of time they are off-line. The Registry is also improving the way the branches are connected to the main computer. This includes replacing the dumb terminals in the branches with current, up-to-date technology. This improvement will provide more effective tools to serve customers. Our Local Area Network (LAN) is in the process of an upgrade. This will allow the agency to add the number of users, expand the number of processing systems available to Registry staff, and improve communication of information across different departments within the agency. Communication of information to outside business partners will also improve.
Every year, the RMV joins a number of state agencies in Operation Standown, a program that provides a variety of services to homeless Veterans. In August, the RMV opened our Washington Street, Boston branch to assist more than 350 Veterans with services ranging from suspension hearings to license or ID renewal. In September, Operation Standown assisted nearly 150 Veterans at our Northampton branch.
The Registry has been part of a group working with the MBTA on a project to promote safety at railroad crossings and school bus stops. We plan to include information developed by Operation Lifesaver in our Driver's Manual, website and other relevant printed materials.