Contractor says NCDMV giving ‘misleading information’ about license production delays

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The contractor the state uses to print licenses and IDs says the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has given “misleading information” about recent production delays, according to documents obtained by CBS 17.

The DMV notified customers that it’s “taking longer than the normal 15 days” for people to receive their official licenses and IDs in the mail.

Temporary credentials issued to customers are good for 60 days, but it’s taking upwards of six weeks to get their cards. Some people have raised concerns about their temporary credentials expiring while they wait.

In a letter on May 8, NCDMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin told state lawmakers, “We have been experiencing increased delays with IDEMIA, our outside private contractor, over the last few months.”

He went on to say that the agency processes 50,000 to 60,000 credentials weekly, and that “each of these customers is impacted.”

IDEMIA, which is based in California, pushed back on Goodwin’s characterization of the problem, saying lawmakers received “misleading information.”

In a letter a few days later on May 13, Lisa Shoemaker, IDEMIA’s vice president of global corporate relations, says NCDMV contacted them in February to halt production because the agency gave them a file that had “renewal record errors.”

Shoemaker says NCDMV asked IDEMIA to manually review thousands of documents. While the company says it offered a less time-consuming alternate solution that would have led to production restarting sooner, NCDMV did not agree to it.

Production on licenses and IDs resumed after 10 days, leading to a backlog.

IDEMIA says it did not receive approval to use an additional factory for production until May 8. Production began at that site on May 13, the company says.

“I am disappointed to see the misleading letter submitted by NC DMV Director (sic) Wayne Goodwin to the North Carolina Assembly and wish under his leadership that the NC DMV also viewed work with important vendors like IDEMIA as a partnership,” Shoemaker writes.

Commissioner Goodwin told legislators that NCDMV is in the process of switching vendors when IDEMIA’s contract ends June 30. However, he added that he doesn’t expect them to catch up on the backlog by then.

NCDMV declined to comment on the claims IDEMIA made when contacted by CBS 17. Spokesperson Marty Homan noted Commissioner Goodwin has been called to testify to lawmakers about the issue at an oversight hearing next week.

State Sen. Michael Lazzara (R-Onslow), who co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, called the situation “frustrating.”

He said NCDMV officials came to lawmakers asking for what he called a “Band-Aid law” that would have extended the duration of the temporary licenses. Sen. Lazzara said he opposed that because he thought NCDMV had the ability to fix the problem without the General Assembly taking action by approving additional production.

“We weren’t told the truth. We had to find out the truth ourselves,” said Lazzara. “They should have immediately started production and gave the approval on whatever production means necessary. Let’s get caught up and let’s get these things out to folks that are in desperate need of these things.”

Commissioner Goodwin told lawmakers at a hearing in February about steps the agency has taken to address a variety of customer service issues, such as offering appointments in the mornings and pushing people to conduct as much business as possible online.  

“This is an ongoing process of the largest forward-facing organization that we have here at the state government that has continually disappointed us in terms of providing good customer service to our citizens,” said Sen. Lazzara. “The General Assembly has made significant investment to DMV to the tune of $170 million specifically for modernization. And, we’re no further today than we were five years ago and we continue to get worse.”

Sen. Lazzara has discussed potentially pushing to privatize the DMV, but he said there won’t be legislation filed to do that this year.

Instead, he said he’ll pursue other reforms, including giving the General Assembly “more direct oversight” of the agency and requiring modernization updates.

Sen. Lazzara said he remains concerned about the agency and thinks Commissioner Goodwin should be replaced.

“I think we have an organization that’s failing. And, I think it needs to be resolved sooner rather than later,” he said. “I understand politics. We can wait six months. We can wait seven months. But that doesn’t really give us…. that’s almost like kicking the can down the curb.”

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