DMV director resigns

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

DMV director  resignsAfter a year dominated by reports of dysfunction, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed Monday that DMV Director Jean Shiomoto will retire after 38 years of state service.

Local voters are among those who apparently suffered at the hands of the department’s poorly implemented “Motor Voter” program, which was intended to smooth the voter registration process by combining it with the state’s driver’s license and ID card programs.

Numerous residents reported being forced to vote by provisional ballot in November after the state either failed to honor standing registrations or change voter ballot requests without authorization or notification.

Across the state, tens of thousands of voters have reported being incorrectly put on voter rolls — with the Sacramento Bee and L.A. Times both pulling Public Records Act requests for internal documents to better understand the plagued implementation of the Motor Voter program.

With long wait times, mismanaged resources and poor oversight of the voter registration process, conservative lawmakers had been calling for the state to step in for the last several months.

Last week California Secretary of State Alex Padillo said that Shiomoto had “lost my confidence and trust,” and called on Gov. Jerry Brown and his soon-to-be-successor Gavin Newsom to promptly appoint new leadership.

Bill Davidson was later identified as Shiomoto’s successor, though his appointment has not yet been confirmed.

Following the announcement of Shiomoto’s resignation, Assembly-man Vince Fong issued he following statement:

“In light of the well-known management struggles at the DMV, this is a major opportunity to begin to right the ship by appointing a new leader who will change the status quo culture and will commit to dramatically improving the customer service for the millions of Californians who will visit the DMV offices every year.”

Fong said he believes that the next director, in order to adequately address systemic problems in the department, should have the ability to embrace new technology, new ideas and “a forward-thinking vision that discards many of the old bad habits that have dragged down this agency for decades. More of the same will not cut it.”

Fong posted a follow-up blog on Dec. 19, after Davidson was tapped to take over the DMV, in which he said “We hope the new successor will embrace new technology and provide forward-thinking vision for the struggling DMV.” (Complete post is at vfong/california-deserves-new-leadership-at-the-department-of-technology-da6687e73cf8.)

“This year alone, there were many stories about six- to nine- hour wait times, failed implementation of the Motor Voter Program, problems with handing Real ID and statewide IT system failures,” Fong continued.

He is also calling for the resignation of California Department of Technology Director Amy Tong.

“Technology touches every part of our government, and it’s no secret that state government has an embarrassing track record of poorly procuring and implementing basic IT projects that helps provide better customer service to the millions of constituents we serve every day. That is why I believe we need a fresh perspective and new leadership at this critical department.

“Technology will help government agencies that affect our daily lives, like the DMV, to deliver better and convenient customer service, which is necessary in today’s technology-driven economy. But we need the right people on top to make sure they are properly procuring new technology. The millions of Californians who are required to visit their DMV deserve better.”

Story First Published: 2018-12-21