- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2001

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — Motor Vehicle Administration officials hope to remove the dread that typically accompanies a trip to one of their offices for a new license or car registration.
Under a new MVA plan, people will stand in one line for photos, eye exams and payments.
The change, intended to shorten waits and reduce paperwork, is part of the state agency's $94 million plan to put a "friendly" face on the MVA by installing more computers and making office visits more tolerable.
"We are trying to bring services in line with what people should expect," said MVA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.
"When we're out of sight and out of mind to people, that's a good thing."
The streamlining, to be completed by the end of the year, is the first step in a major overhaul of MVA operations. Other new features will allow motorists to do more from their home computers, eliminating the need to visit MVA offices.
In the next few years, almost every service offered by the agency will move to a paperless, one-stop-shopping format, Miss Ferro said.
That's good news to drivers like Johnetta Neal, 52, of Baltimore, who showed up at the Glen Burnie office this week to get a replacement license.
"Let's see, I walked in the door, and went here, then there, then over there," she said, pointing around the room. "If it's going to give me one-stop shopping, I like it. I just dealt with five different personalities. I would rather deal with just one."
Many consider the current system cumbersome. Drivers who go to an MVA office for a license renewal are handed a paper application. After filling it out, the driver goes to the "document review" counter, where an employee checks the person's birth certificate, marriage license or other records.
Then it's on to the "data entry" line, where the person behind the counter enters the application information into a computer. From there, drivers are sent to another counter, where a digital photo is shot, the cashier is paid, and the license is picked up.
The new MVA design includes a desk where the customer and an MVA staffer sit face-to-face. Drivers enter information on a computer screen, then have a picture taken by a digital camera. Vision is checked in the same cubicle.
An image of the license appears on the computer screen, allowing drivers to correct errors or have another picture taken if they don't like the photo.
"People coming in are seeing this new sit-down environment and they already like it. They think it's the new system," said Karen Morton, manager of driver services. "It's more friendly."
The changes come partly in response to legislation passed last year by the General Assembly requiring state agencies to provide 80 percent of public information and services over the Internet by 2004.
The improvements also build on other efforts at the MVA to be more customer-friendly.
Since 1998, MVA has worked to reduce the average visit time from 62 minutes to 33 minutes.

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