Problems persist at Driver and Vehicle Services offices across the state
WILLMAR — The line at the Driver and Vehicle Services office in Willmar was moving pretty quickly Friday afternoon, especially considering the troubles the state's new computer system has been causing at DVS offices across the state.
"It's coming along," said License Registrar Deb Mickle, with a note of both exhaustion and optimism in her voice.
Since the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System went on line in mid-July, there have been long lines — and lots of frustration — as customers wait to make transactions and employees try to enter information on a system that has glitches.
Sometimes — even after waiting in line — customers are turned away because the system still cannot complete some tasks, such as properly registering farm trucks and pro-rating some fees.
It's been trying for people on both sides of the counter.
"It's very frustrating for us as well," Mickle said. "We don't want to send people away and tell them we can't do something. We want to be able to help our customers."
The state's purpose for replacing a decades-old system had merit.
With the old computer software, after a customer left their local Driver and Vehicle Services office, it would take six to eight weeks for vehicle documents to be loaded into the state system.
The new computer program puts the documents into the state system immediately — in real time — when the customer is at the counter.
That's the positive side.
"However, it's harder for us at the counter because it takes twice as long to do a transaction," Mickle said. "So it makes the front line back up more than it has in the past."
While the added front-end time was expected and the processes are becoming smoother with practice, the glitches with the software have added another whole layer of new problems and more time at the counter.
Mickle said those issues showed up during the practice sessions at the local offices, and the state division of Driver and Vehicle Services was informed about them before the system went live.
"It's clear this system was not ready when it launched. We share everyone's frustration and want people to know that registrars are doing everything they can to provide the best customer service possible despite the challenging circumstances," said Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar, in a recent news release.
Baker is chairman of the House Select Committee on Technology and Responsive Government, which has launched a web form to collect information from people about their recent experiences.
"We know it's frustrating going to (Driver and Vehicle Services) to begin with, and it's disappointing to hear about the ongoing problems Minnesotans are having," Baker said.
He said it's hoped that information from customers will help "put an end to these headaches."
The state has updated the plagued system on a daily basis, and every day at 1 p.m. there are conference calls with local registrars such as Mickle to let them know what's already been fixed and what will be fixed in the future.
"They're telling us they're working diligently to fix what needs to be fixed, and at this point there's no going back," Mickle said. "So we are just going to have to do the best we can with the system. And it seems to have smoothed out a little bit."
Mickle said she hopes that by the end of August, the system will be fully operational.
In the meantime, Mickle asks for the public to be patient.
“Try to be understanding when there’s something we can’t do. It’s not us that doesn’t want to do it for you. It’s just that we cannot right now.”
Minnesotans can submit their comments and feedback by visiting www.house.leg.state.mn.us/DMV/Comment.
Baker said comments should be as specific and detailed as possible to help Driver and Vehicle Services improve the system.